The final chapter. It's been a LONG time coming. Thanks for sticking around!

~*~*~Chapter 11: Impending Reprisals~*~*~

Five Months Later….Month of Gale, 21 A.E. : New Jacinto Hospital

The culmination of her actions were bittersweet. She comprehended this as she stood alongside Alex and Sam, amidst the totality of Delta Squad in the pediatric ward. All were bedecked in various colors of BDUs and guinea tees. The two men had won a Pyrrhic victory, but the effects would be everlasting.

Anya forced back a hateful smile as she surveyed Marcus and Baird who awaited the verdict of the pregnancy in the hospital. The woman had to undergo labor two weeks early due to contractions. Using her peripherals, she relished in the anguish that Baird struggled with while his mind whirred with the possibilities of what ifs. It added a delicious spice to her defeat.

Her plot had been two-fold. The first had failed: she didn't conquer Marcus. The second worked spectacularly: she had managed to break the arrogant blond.

He wouldn't ever act so smug around her again.

The plan had taken months to devise and carefully craft. She knew that she had to gain the trust of everyone, in particular Baird, in order to execute it flawlessly. Simple transference of Marcus' letters to him whenever they came would have Baird entrust her a bit more each time, though unknowing to him she sought out men with similarities to Augustus Cole so he could befriend them. It was during her planning stage that she had recognized that Levi Dullen was infatuated with Baird. She began to get close to him for use if need be.

The month of Gale had been chosen as the inception of her scheme. Anya sickened at the memory of Baird with his fingers roaming over Marcus, tongue down his throat, and moaning wantonly when they were meant to seek out Imulsion and water sources. She had seen Cole from the brush as well as he came upon the scene, freezing before slowly turning to head back to her. It had happened during Gale so it was fitting that the unraveling of Baird happened during Gale as well.

When Marcus' letters came, Anya opened each one and burned them. Hate nearly choked her as she read each loving word that adorned the page, directed to someone who was simply underserving of it. But it was necessary: she needed a letter in which Baird's response couldn't possibly be misconstrued. As for Baird's letters, she used her authority as a COG officer to have the postmen withhold them from mailing, stating that it was an order from above that made her do so. If Baird were to question, simply tell him that they were sent accordingly.

She sorrowfully told Baird that she didn't receive any letters. Soon the letters would stop coming and going.

Her sights turned to Levi who was by now utterly smitten with the obnoxious and ignorant blond. Anya began to send him Baird's letters, knowing that the young man was tempted to read their content. She wanted to successfully make him jealous, not having planned to use him originally. But she knew that her endeavor would pay off in the end. She knew of his attempts to return the letters to Baird, but curiously, they had ceased during Harvest.

She tried to coax him to reveal his feelings all the while, but the stubborn tousle-headed blond insisted that nothing would come of it. It took all of her patience to smile sweetly and tell him that she truly wanted him to be happy while apologizing for coming off as assertive. He had grinned and told her that he was fine with unrequited love and divulged that though he had written his love to Baird in written form, it was best if he never knew about it.

Such a mistake.

Anya had gained access to Levi's room due to Levi. He had run into her while rushing to get to Baird. Her flawless performance of a concerned friend led Levi to beg that she retrieve important documents detailing the Maelstrom Generator from his room so that he wouldn't have to face Baird's wrath. Eagerly acquiescing, she was able to search vigorously for the letter with a candid excuse. It was then that she had found Baird's letters stashed away in a box. Gleefully, she allowed them to remain where they were.

Levi had buried himself. A loose-end taken care of: she wouldn't have to kill him.

With his love letter in hand, she simply planted it into Marcus' incoming mail while on the Mainland by communicating that the letter was meant for the Sergeant.

Seeds of mistrust had been sown…but that wasn't enough.

Anya arranged the similar letters betwixt Baird and Marcus to be placed within the Security Board when she was on the Mainland. It was as simple as walking in, engaging in conversation while fiddling with some mail, accidentally dropping them, and slipping them within the ensuing mess.

She continued to entice Cole in befriending others besides Baird to alienate the blond. Baird was sure to destroy the relationship on his own later on. But it wouldn't bode well with him to see that Cole was enjoying himself with others than him.

She reported to Hoffman that she consistently received requests from many women as well as a few reports that stated that Baird himself wished to participate in the Breeding Program. The "offers" coincided with Baird's wish for time off as well as every other time that Anya had reported to Hoffman.

Hoffman coercing Marcus and Anya to marry had simply been icing on the cake. It had unsettled her to possibly risk Marcus in any capacity, but was necessary to eliminate her target.

Marcus had been immediately uncompromising until he found about Levi's letter and how Baird's letters had stopped. When Baird's participation within the Breeding Program came to light, he was near agreement. He was still reluctant, having severe doubts that he confessed to Anya.

Fortunately, Anya knew how to herd him in the right direction by way of manipulating his feelings. Cailen's death was unfortunate but necessary. It was simple to lure him outside of the confines of Anvil Gate: who would question an order from Lieutenant Stroud relayed over private communications?

No one could say that she was merciless: a shot in the back of the head unknowingly with a silenced pistol made his end quick. The next detail was necessary but gruesome and revolting. It required her to beat him with his own rifle until he was unrecognizable, dousing him with oil, and setting his corpse on fire. It was a precaution: it wasn't as if prints could be lifted, but it had to look like a Stranded ploy.

She could have been caught at any time, she knew. Stranded patrolled the areas that she had been or any COG grunt could see the fire from the watchtower. Yet she had toiled, the small clearing that she had set up with sand to contain the fire doing an admirable job. Of course, that required her to move the body—she couldn't leave him at the scene or it would be known that his death was an inside job.

Her ex had towed the line then after she tearfully told him what happened when the body was found. His face flickered with an emotion that she didn't think could register within him: fear. Not for himself but for his lover. Oh, how she envied Baird for making him feel that way for him.

But she could bask in knowing that Marcus ending their relationship was the final nail in the coffin for Baird's psyche. Just to bury the knife of betrayal further, she sent him a wedding invitation. He deserved to suffer for taking away the love of her life.

Allowing herself to finally smile, she listed off what she knew what been the reasons for Baird's psychotic break.

The estrangement that he felt from Cole.

The distrust he felt from Marcus.

The loathing that soared within himself as he helped to breed another woman that Baird did not get to choose.

The betrayal he learned from Levi.

The knowledge that Marcus and Anya were soon to be wed.

Their publically non-existent relationship extinguished due to a homosexual recruit being brutally murdered by—reportedly—Hoffman who approved of the aforementioned couple.

Sending him the invitation to let him know that he had lost the man that enamored him.

Lack of sleep and consumption due to encroaching depression.

Beautifully played.

Doc Hayman exited the room. Upon seeing them, she headed to Baird who had Marcus close behind him. He turned to Marcus as she spoke, eyes searching his for comfort.

She covered her face with a hand, closing her eyes pretending to be stricken by the news that the mother had passed away. In actuality, she savored the likelihood that the child that she heard Baird wanted had met its demise as well. She should be the one to give Marcus his first child. Since she's sterile, Marcus should lay claim to no one else.

Oh. That's disappointing.

She sighed in mock relief. The spawn had lived. But that did not stop her from dwelling on Baird's ineptitude of working independently from Marcus. How long would it take for Marcus to tire of Baird now? Their relationship wasn't public, though well-known throughout Delta. Even though they were more overt than Marcus and Anya, most still thought their relationship to be begrudging acceptance.

The man had tenuous relationships with Delta and though both of them resided at Azura, Baird nearly begged his constant awareness like a reliant invalid. And now with a child? Most certainly, Baird would impede with the child's development due to his mental instability and his assuredly pathetic demand to clamor for Marcus' attention rather than it being given to the child.

Not to mention, did Marcus even want the child? One that was not biologically his? Had they even talked about it? Stifling a cruel chuckle, she thought not.

Perhaps an argument could be made by using such reasons to prove Baird unfit to break him further…

"The child will be placed within a good home—" Doc Hayman began before being interrupted.

"We're keeping it." Her eyes opened and narrowed at Marcus' back, assuring that she was unseen as she did so. She was able to catch Alex's befuddled gaze, not to mention a few others, as they looked upon Marcus.

We. That was possessive and admitted that Baird and he were openly together. It also showed that they had talked about it.

Resentment boiled within her as her gaze hardened, flicking towards Baird. Marcus had not been so forthcoming when they had been together for fifteen years and did not seem to care for children due to her condition. Perhaps Marcus did not wish to part from Baird, no matter how exhausting the man must have become. A child that he would grow to love would make them nigh inseparable…

Surprise overtook Hayman as she glanced between the two men. Opening her mouth to speak before closing it, she tried again.

"I thought you didn't want him."

"I didn't. But I do now." Baird's tone of voice let them all know that he would not budge on the issue. Yet it was the behemoth behind him that gave more force to his words.

"And do you have a name for him?"

Anya nearly shook with rage as she watched Marcus place a gentle hand on Baird's hip before he spoke, which made Alex gasp. If someone didn't know, they all knew now. They were certainly uncaring of their affections in public. Perhaps due to Hoffman's recent decree of the changes within the Officer/Infantrymen Fraternization Code, they both had become emboldened. Even so, she was sure Marcus wouldn't have done so with her if they were together.

"We were thinking James Dominic Fenix."

"Fenix?" Cole pushed off the wall while unfolding his arms, a questioning expression on his face. She knew that his friendship with Baird had resumed, but there seemed to be an underlying issue. Cole seemed to fear that his buddy was keeping him in the dark and that this was more of the same. "You two are married?"

Anya slid her hand away from her face, shock evident. Marcus cast a dark glance her way which nearly made her shiver. Those intense gazes had increased over the last few months. She had done nothing directly towards him. Merely his inept escort. But he couldn't know about that. She took solace in Baird's apprehensive glance at those gathered—those who were ignorant of Marcus and he—particularly Cole.

"Not yet. But we will be. J.D. needs to be taken care of first."

Anya schooled her countenance into a smile that seemed so genuine that it was undoubtedly fake to an observant individual. Peering at Baird to see how he fared after Marcus' disclosure, she saw a gentle smirk aimed at his lover. She forced her smile to widen as Marcus leaned in to softly kiss him.

Both men disappeared into the room with Hayman which made the hall erupt with noise.

"Wow. I did not know—" Clayton began.

"Who are you telling?" Jace Stratton interceded. "Every time I've seen the two of them they seem to always butt heads."

"Sometimes, that's an indicator that two people are into each other." Dizzy Wallen drawled. "I, for one, am damn happy for the both of them. They look good."

"Yeah, of course." Jace quickly agreed. "It's just…I thought Anya and Marcus were a thing."

All eyes turned to her as Alex intervened, her blood running cold. "Right. You two were about to get married a few months ago. This couldn't be a relationship that happened over just that time."

"It wasn't." She whipped her head to the side, awed at Cole coming to her defense. Sure, he had apologized to her about what he had thought and felt, but she didn't think that it would have led to this. "And really no one was supposed to know. We found out in—let's say for some us, it was an accident."

"Besides, this is about them and we should be respectful." Bernie spoke up, frowning.

"It just feels like we've been lied to." Alex huffed.

"We get that." Sam stated. "But you have to understand that it wasn't really safe for two men to date until recently."

"Oh." Clayton's voice betrayed his dawning realization. "So that day when Hoffman spoke about changing the bill—"

"It was about the two of them." Anya finally trusted herself to speak.

Alex shook her head, throwing her a sad glance. "I'm sorry, Anya."

"It's fine." She responded, perhaps too tersely. She wanted to make sure that everyone knew that this was territory best not traversed without her express approval. "We separated before they got together. What matters is them."

Alex's lips thinned as her eyes cut away, but everyone else murmured in agreement.

All dialogue ceased as the lovers returned. A tuft of blond hair peeked from a soft blanket curled against Baird's chest. Heart-wrenching soft cries drifted to them as a chubby pink newborn wailed for comfort. Baird gently rocked him and spoke soft words of affection. Marcus now had an arm around Baird, a finger nudging the J.D.'s hand so that he reflexively grasped it.

Gushing adulations cooed from everyone around them, blooming faces complimenting them both while hugs and handshakes were exchanged. The unfortunate mother was not forgotten, but the fact that a life had been saved was a reason to celebrate.

Anya congregated with Delta who all seemed to be talking excitedly about the coming nuptials—When would it be? Would Baird be the bride? Since J.D. has Marcus' last name, would Baird take his?—and how their adorable child looked like Baird. She edged around the others so that she could make her way to the only important person there, who had given Baird and J.D. some space so that he could speak with Doc Hayman.

The CMO went to retrieve J.D. so that she could run the proper tests necessary for him to be taken home as Anya approached. His usual warm blues now only cast a tolerant coldness to her.

"Congratulations, Marcus."

His lips were set and his eyes diminished slightly as she put her arms around him. For a few seconds, she felt awkward not feeling any response. Eventually, she felt large arms briefly touch her back before being pulled away. She didn't let the sting of rejection show, moving from him with a kind grin.

While Hayman was still disbelieving of what had transpired before her—indicated by her mutters under her breath as she passed the two of them—Anya was the opposite: she came to a conclusion as reality hit her.

Marcus was not hers anymore. Something had changed within him and she didn't know what in particular. And he would never be hers again, if his behavior had any indication of it.

But Baird had been effectively destroyed. She saw this as the tense man relaxed when Marcus stood behind him. He wouldn't be able to come back from what had happened to him. Laughing jovially to this thought—not a joke that Bernie had made—Anya thought that defeat had never tasted so delicious.

Month of Bloom: 24 A.E, Island of Azura: Fenix Family Suite

Life is pretty damn good. And fuck, it is exactly what Baird needed at the moment.

Kneading Marcus' ass, he spread them to run his tongue along his puckering hairy entrance. Shit, it was sweaty like he loved. It begged for a kiss from him and he obliged by leaning in, brushing his lips firmly against it. He loved the hair that tickled his face as he kissed the wet rosebud begging for his attention.

They were in the showers of their family suite in Azura. J.D. was out learning the essentials of Thrashball from Cole while his very pregnant Kashkuri wife watched over them fondly. They planned to take him to the cafeteria afterwards and then to the screening of a movie before the ceremony. It gave them ample time.

Listening to Marcus' breathing as he kneeled behind him, he focused on bestowing pleasure to his lover. He let his tongue circle the ring of muscle, lovingly gazing at his Sergeant spread so lewdly, flushing unashamedly while his hands splayed against the shower wall. Baird's swollen cock wanted to bury itself deep into him to passionately fuck him. Instead, he did his best to ignore his cock weeping precum on the floor.

This wasn't Baird's first time inside of Marcus. After a few more disturbing incidents thanks to It, they had come to the conclusion that loss of control was partially the reason why It returned, ever more harrowing than the last appearance. There were few things that Baird did not retain control of in his life, but none were as daunting as It. They formulated that Baird would have to be given something to command that would be stronger than It. As Baird's gaze swept over his beloved, he realized that the something was Marcus.

Gently pressing his tongue against the quivering hole, Baird slowly rubbed it around the rim, humming as he did so. Marcus threw his head back, a growl escaping from deep in his throat. He pushed his ass against Baird as he furiously dove in, attacking Marcus' hole with kisses and licks. Baird watched him reach down and begin to stroke himself.

"Fuck, Baird, is this necessary?" He ground out after biting back a groan, holding still. "We've got lube."

"Fuck yes it is." He whispered breathlessly. His fingers kept his cheeks spread as thumbs tenderly parted the hole that wished to clench. "I can cum just by looking at you like this, Marcus. Fuck. Do you know what you do to me?"

He didn't expect an answer as Marcus settled his forehead against the wall. He didn't need one to know that the man was embarrassed. Baird resumed showing Marcus much needed affection, plunging his tongue deeply into the bared hole. He moaned as let his thumbs slip, feeling the wonderful muscle clamping down on his tongue before relaxing. Marcus' breaths were short and hard, warning Baird that he was close to losing it.

Baird trailed a hand from Marcus ass and up his side, earning him a resounding slap from the neglected cheek. He groaned when he felt Marcus—his Sergeant—shudder. Pulling back to stand, he fumbled for the black bottle on the shower caddy hanging on the door, liberally pouring some of the contents onto his fingers.

"Open up for me." He murmured, replacing the bottle.

That earned him an incredulous look. Or, rather, a fractionally raised eyebrow, straight lined lips that could be seen on that clean-shaven face, and a soft snort. Cold water pelted them both for a few quiet moments.

"You're really asking me to do this?" His tone wasn't hard or defiant. It was soft and a bit flustered. Shit, it turned him on even more than he thought possible.

"I'd do anything for you, baby." He pushed his body against him, rubbing his cock against the crack of his ass. He put his mouth against his ear. "And not to point fingers, but you did ask me to do the same. You love my hole and I fucking love yours. Deal with it."

He caught a quirk of his lips before Marcus turned his face away, hands reaching down to spread himself apart. Wanting to take it slow, Baird playfully bit and kissed the cusp of Marcus' ear before moving to his strong jaw, a finger lazily rotating his rim. He continued along to the base of it, treading along his neck, biting his shoulder before lightening his actions with smooth kisses that trailed down his spine. Carefully, he inserted the finger past the muscle, moving it back and forth to open him up. He chuckled as Marcus obscenely contracted onto his finger, trying to hold Baird's finger in.

Baird nipped at the round flesh presented before him as he prostrated himself, emitting a growl from his otherwise silent lover. He imbedded another finger as he placed his lips on the bite mark of his ass, appreciating the view of Marcus greedily sucking on his fingers.

Reaching the outset of Marcus crack, he purposely dabbed his tongue along it, tormenting him with his languid pace. Adding a third finger, he twisted them in, entranced with the squelching needy sounds his ass made. His cock pulsed painfully, crying for instant gratification. "You're going to have to wait, baby." He muttered, casting it a remorseful look.

"Damon." Marcus' rasped.

Baird tore his eyes from himself up the man whose lust-filled gaze gave his cock another agonizing throb. He then tossed a look at Marcus' own turgid member, pressed against the shower wall. "I want you to fuck my mouth until you're close to cumming while I'm finger fucking you. Then have you shove your cock down my throat so I can swallow all of your cum."

Both eyebrows raised this time. Baird allowed his mouth to sag, tongue lolled out obscenely with eyes dimmed in pleasure, panting for only what his lover could give. A strangled sound came from Marcus as Baird laughed, twisting himself around so he was between Marcus' legs with his back braced against the wall.

His Sergeant bestowed a fiery desirous look upon him, Baird returning one with equal passion. "And…" he whispered. "I don't want you to hold back. I want to hear all the sounds you make for me." He didn't wait to hear a response.

The angle he rested in would require more effort to push deeper into Marcus, but Baird didn't mind as held onto Marcus' hip, swallowing him completely in one efficient move. A profound groan reached his ears as Baird bobbed his head on the beastly cock.

There were so many reasons he loved sex with Marcus, one being the fact that the monstrous beast disappearing into his mouth was for him to enjoy only. Every time it reappeared in his field of vision it was more slickened with his dribble. Each time he engulfed it, he could feel the hard throb of it filling his mouth and hitting his throat. He also nuzzled the pubic hair when he reach the hilt.

Marcus moved his hips to push the sweltering length against him. Baird hummed in admiration, lips gliding over large girth while his tongue swathed his shaft feverishly. He made sure to lap at the head as much as he could, welcoming the delicious bitterness. A memory of his first blow-job filtered through his mind. He could taste the appetizing pre-cum that only whet his appetite for his gushing dessert. A hint of sweat lingered making him drop his hand to his punished cock to relieve some tension. The soap was non-carbolic though and it brought a more pleasurable quality to the combined flavors.

Marcus let out a low groan and Baird understood that his Sergeant had a very tantalizing view. He could observe Baird eagerly consuming him while pawing at his own cock. Grinning around the piece of flesh that he never wanted to let go of, Baird widened his legs as far as they would go. The left dangled over the threshold of the open shower door while the other tried to brace against the wall. It wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't about him.

"Fuck." Marcus grit out, trying to widen his stance even more as he grabbed onto Baird's ankle, his fingers intertwining in his blond locks. The new position gave Baird leeway to root his fingers as far into Marcus as he could go, causing him to growl out his name in passion.

Baird knew what he must look like: skin tinged with roseate hue, spit dribbling down his chin as the heavenly assault on his mouth picked up pace, eyes masked with wanton desire and yearning, and transcending it all, Baird palming himself affectionately for him.

"Fuck Damon." His hoarse voice made Baird cry out to him, moaning his name with his mouth full of his cock, lavishing it with adoration.

Baird felt the fingers tighten and he braced himself as Marcus sheathed all of himself inside of his mouth. Withdrawing his fingers from the well-lubricated hole and his cock to place grab Marcus' ass, Baird's only warning was a reverent groan.

Hot streams of cum spurted into him, warming the back of his throat. Moaning, he squeezed his ass, running his hands on the underside of his thighs, trying to desperately lick the shaft that pinned his tongue to the floor of his mouth. He felt Marcus pull out enough so that the rest of his cum spilled onto his tongue. Such a generous partner—he knew exactly what Baird wanted.

Baird knew what he wanted as well. It was a struggle to keep from swallowing as Marcus emptied himself, a thick layer of cum filling his mouth. His lips clasped tightly around the pulsating member until he was spent. He gave Marcus ample time to rest and get his breathing under control. His forehead pressed against the wall as he admired the blond joyfully impaled on his cock, still massaging his thighs to ensure that he would catch him if he felt weak-kneed.

Gently, he dragged himself out, exhaling heavily as he watched his semi-hard dick glisten with cum and spit, cum drizzling down Baird's chin, and then the waiting blond himself. Baird nearly drowned in the bottomless cerulean oceans that whirled with an abundant amount of emotions.

"Let me see." The fond gravelly timbre declared as he stepped back.

Baird's mouth slackened cautiously, giving Marcus a perfect view of the thick white mouthful of cum…before swallowing it. He smiled, his teeth splashed with cum as was the tongue that dabbed for any strays.

"Damon." He murmured, setting Baird's ankle down.

"I know." He whispered, raising himself only to have his body crushed against the wall, Marcus' tongue shoving into him.

He didn't need to be told. It was in Marcus' enamored voice. How he consumed Baird's tongue frenzied, growling against him as he tasted himself. The rough pants that were meant to come out as Baird's name. Gripping his body hard enough to leave bruises. Hips grounding against him, their cocks rubbing. Teeth scraping his collarbone before biting down on the nape of his neck, causing Baird to sob in pleasure.

Baird hooked a leg over his hip which Marcus held. His fingers firmly tangled in Marcus' hair to plead with him to persist on marking him. Lips parted to reveal rugged gasps as he clawed at his back, his body sliding against Marcus' perspired one, hopeless to try and match his rhythm.

Coldness surrounded him as Marcus pushed away. Confusion flooded him as his he failed to get his brain to operate before he felt blessed heat surround his cock. His legs failed him then and he slowly slid back down to the floor, eyes barely open as Marcus held onto him. Drawing in mouthfuls of air, he watched Marcus part his legs before lying between them.

Baird whimpered now, trying to say everything that he wanted to say. How much he loved him too. That no one else made him feel this way. To stop as much as he didn't really fucking want to because he had planned to explode inside of Marcus' ass. To ignore the previous statement because he was going to lose his mind if his brains didn't get blown the hell out first.

When fingers clasped his inner thighs to keep them open, Baird's mewled more frantically, eyes widening as his respirations increased as he scrambled for a hold on wet flesh, anxiously awaiting—

His head hurled back, the pain from the smack against the wall of the shower dulling against the blossoming joy due to the mouth that captured his cock. He cried his name as didn't move, complying with what he knew his beloved preferred during this single act. Instead, he tried to observe Marcus, though his vision was unclear and his mind numb.

His cock vanished between those full lips, the wide tongue blanketing his cock seemingly everywhere at once. When it emerged from the tight mouth, a sheen of saliva could be seen. It was perfect…but it was all so slow. This was part of what Marcus liked as well: he loved to devour Baird unhurriedly as he tortuously lied still. It enabled him to watch him unravel.

Baird gasped as Marcus quickened his speed, amusedly regarding him. A defiant huff left him which quickly turned into a moan as Marcus growled, the vibrations cascading along his cock. His nails dug into the older man's shoulders.

"Marcus, I can't."

He begged. Oh fuck, he didn't care. The tongue hungrily lapping him was pushing towards the edge. The firm grip of those lips stimulated his shaft gloriously as they glided along. The warmth of his mouth blanketed him on all sides. That welcoming fire that burned in his belly crept closer every second.

"Please I can't take it."

Tears burned as he continued to sob, while his tormenting Sergeant paid no heed to his plight. The fucker even slowed down to Baird's dismay. He couldn't help it. Erratically he pushed into his mouth to try to quicken his pace and to be satisfied. Cruelly, Marcus didn't adapt: he simply continued what he was doing.

"Marcus, fuck! Please for fuck's sake do it!"

The barest edges of teeth scraped on his shaft and Baird bucked up, seating himself fully inside Marcus before cumming hard. The edges of his vision whited out as the tears fell and sharp breaths were sucked in as he expended himself, utterly complacent.

Something nudged at his lips and he opened them, purring as a cum-smeared tongue slid in. Baird panted into the mouth covering his, sampling his own bitterness. He felt himself being moved to lie down atop a hard body, something wet consistently hitting him while still messily engaging in a tango with the other tongue.

He moaned as the tongue unwound itself, chasing after it. A soft chuckle was muffled as Baird tried to reengage the tongue, wishing to curl around it. When it parted again, Baird became frustrated. He opened his eyes to scowl at Marcus who had a full-fledged smile on his face and a devilish gaze.

"I hate you." Baird whispered huskily, forcing out the words. "God, I hate you so much. I fucking begged you to finish me and you made me suffer."

His glower deepened as Marcus' smile widened. "I fucking love you like this."

Marcus shifted and Baird didn't have to look down to see that he had drawn up his legs. "You're going to make me suffer, Damon?"

Baird gulped and buried his face in the crook of Marcus neck. He breathed loudly against him as heard an abrupt snick. Something cold touched his cock, making it jump and seep into Baird's brain that he was still hard. Marcus daubed his cock generously, running his thumb over the head to purposefully get a sob out of Baird.

His arms moved to lift powerful legs to brace on his shoulders. Marcus gave him a few more strokes for good measure before guiding him to his hole. Baird lifted his head, blushing adoringly at the man below him as he pushed against him. Marcus' puckering rose struggled against the intrusion briefly before relenting.

Baird's head was suckled by the rim first before he penetrated further into a blissful hotness that didn't compare to what he had felt before. He moaned as he watched Marcus' close his eyes, brows furrowing with concentration as he turned his head, exhaling slowly.

He was suffocating. Muscles around him smothered him, adding to the delicious heat while holding his cock prisoner for the time being. Marcus' hands were on his ass, occasionally exerting pressure, but Baird held back, wanting to thoroughly appreciate what was on display. It was when Marcus' eye scarcely opened that Baird deigned to move.

It started off slow. That was how they both liked it. Baird witnessed how his cock delighted Marcus, who rarely if ever was loud in bed. Yet he couldn't deny that those groans grew louder when he would sink in leisurely, the lazy haul back having him contend with Marcus clamping down on his cock to keep him from doing so.

Marcus reveled in seeing the effects of his teasing on the blond. Loving murmurs tumbled from his lips incoherently as he speared into him, losing a bit of self-control each time he dragged himself out, flaring desire within him as he nudged every part of him along the way.

This test of their restraint lasted only a few minutes, both waiting for the other to concede. Baird usually surrendered—as he did this time—but as he began to drill into Marcus, he knew no other would conquer his tight ass so he never chided himself.

Balls slapped soundly against Marcus as Baird watched his skin flush with ecstasy. A hand of Marcus' came to brace on his forearm. His eyes broadened minutely as grunts escaped him. Marcus' sight never left Baird as the blond leaned down to occupy his mouth.

Baird knew he could shift and then mercilessly fuck Marcus. It's what he wanted to do. But he was building up to it, wanting to get both of them off at the same time instead of only himself. His cock was filling with blood whenever he burrowed into his lover. Marcus was going through the same as his hand left his ass to stroke his cock. As they separated panting hard, saliva drooped between them.

Knowing that Baird would be the only one to see this face made him drive into Marcus harder. He watched him gasp, arching a bit at the sudden ferocity before attempting to thrust back against him. His cock was handled more roughly as Baird rocked into him, averting his eyes. He pressed their foreheads together, looking at their sweating bodies syncing beautifully, Marcus' chest and happy trail tickling his bare stomach. If he saw anymore of Marcus' lust-addled demeanor, he was going to cum.

Gratefully, Marcus seemed to be close as well, Marcus muttered, "Harder."

It almost wasn't heard. Baird had been entranced with watching his thick cock plummet into that alluring crevice encompassing him and removing it enough to see it pucker rapidly, anxious for him to stay in. But Baird had heard. And it was extraordinarily difficult to keep himself in place and not thrust back into that wondrous encapsulating heat. The temptation literally surrounded him.

Determined blue eyes settled on challenging ones, faces inches apart. "Beg."

Baird felt his hand leave his arm to tangle into his mussed hair. Marcus snorted, unabashed. "Is that all?"

Tonguing his lips with just the tip, Baird scowled, "I know that you don't like to make noise."

"Never said I didn't like it." His eyes gleamed mischievously. "Just never had anyone who could make me."

Groaning with scantily-laden shame, Baird trembled. "You're cheating." He replied raggedly.

A slight turn of his lips downward was apparent yet his gaze was the opposite. "How? By telling you that your cock is the biggest I've been with?"

"You're fucking evil."

"That I love drinking your cum."

"Fuck, stop it!"

"That bottoming for you is something I love doing."

Baird snapped his hips forcefully, an immediate growl coming from the man beneath him. "You have no fucking idea what in the hell you do to me." Beginning to pummel into Marcus viciously, he didn't give the man a chance to respond. "How hard I get whenever I see you. How much I love when you smile. How you touch me and tell me—tell me that you want—no one else—"

"Feel the same way, Damon." A breathless groan.

"Yeah? Then show me. Cum for me. Fuck, Marcus, go crazy for me. Fucking love it when you do."

A snarl erupted from Marcus before he crushed them together. Baird frantically dove into Marcus as he felt his man lose control. They bit at each other's lips before tearing into their mouths. Baird lifted Marcus' hips, not losing any traction as their moist tongues warred even though they panted fractured sentiments.

"—Oh fuck. Love this. Love you. Don't stop—"

"—so good. Damn it, so fucking good—"

"—unbelievably fucking tight—"

"—goddamn amazing arrogant motherfucker—"

Baird leaned over, still muttering words of adoration. His cock plunged ever deeper into Marcus due to the new position and he took advantage of it, pounding into him furiously. He knew that he had hit the delightful bundle of nerves when he heard Marcus growl into his mouth.


"Mm. You like that, baby?" The only response he received was a bite to his lower lip that drew blood. Baird swept his tongue across his bruised lip, shivering with increased arousal. Closing his eyes, he concentrated his thrusts on Marcus' prostate, trying to keep himself from coming undone.

The frigid water bombarding his back like miniature ice picks helped offset the tantalizing sensation of scraping against the puckering muscle. His knees were sore and it would be best to focus on that instead of the intense grunts that came from his mate whenever he plugged him. Turning his face upward to feel steady rain pinging his face countered the sweltering heat that threatened to overwhelm his cock.

Nails dug into his shoulder making him inadvertently open his eyes. It had been a mistake.

"Oh fuck, baby."

The man under him was nigh unrecognizable. Damp hair plastered all over his face. His usual fearless eyes now cloudy with desire. Lovely gasps tore from him whenever Baird moved. It was all too much at once.

Baird cried his name before blasting his cum into him. More forceful than before, he rammed himself against his delectable ass to let him know, plunging his fingers into his skin. His balls squeezed achingly, wanting to expel every ounce of cum inside.

Vaguely, he heard Marcus snarl against him. Cum splattered across their abdomens as Marcus spilled himself in long thick streams. He didn't remember lowering them to the floor or how his hand slid between them to help Marcus release. There was no recollection of collapsing onto him, not bothering to pull out. Or an arm draped across his back as he heard Marcus sigh with satisfaction and murmur in his ear.

Darkness sought him out and for the first time in years, Baird was not afraid.

Baird regained consciousness to find that he was in the master suite and unduly warm. He felt a hard body under him as well as heavy covers snug around him. Bewildered, he thought back to what he could last recall and groaned. Contentedly though a bit ashamed, he sat up only to feel welcome flesh press against him.

The old Marcus wouldn't have been so affectionate. The fingers twisting his nipple and the ones fondling his cock were never as soothing. The light brushes of his lips against Baird's skin weren't ever so enjoyable. Yet Marcus had changed, adapted to Baird's needs. Baird had done the same.

He pushed back into the arms that wrapped him, touching any place that he could as he licked his face in an unspoken need for attention. Marcus' lips captured his and the kiss was slow and sensual. No fight for dominance. No teasing. It was simply the desire to demonstrate their never-ending love for the other, no matter what they would possibly suffer.

"Don't tell me that I passed out after sex." Arms wrapped around his waist as he sheepishly surveyed his love.

"It wasn't because of It, right?" Baird simpered as he heard the concerned undertone. He had told Marcus what he called that hellish recollection and Marcus respectfully used the same terminology. And whenever It threatened to come back, Marcus would relinquish his body to Baird.


"Then I take it as a compliment." Marcus muttered, touching his lips along Baird's face.

"You were on bottom." Frowning, his embarrassment gave way to annoyance. "I've never heard of a top passing out because the bottom was fucking incredible." A glance at Marcus' stilled face made him scurry on. "I mean, you were. You always are. I didn't mean it like that. It's just I know that I would never make you pass out."

The words were met with a puff of air and Marcus detaching himself from Baird to lie on the bed, hands clasped underneath his head with eyes shut. It wasn't hard to discern: he was pissed.

In time past, Baird would have handled the situation differently with the use of his anger. Now that he knew better, he ran a hand along his leg to see if he received any reaction. When none came, he sprawled himself on Marcus, making it a point to caress him as much as possible.

He rested his head on the same pillow, resting a hand under it. There it was: the tense jaw that shifted his scar. Leaning in, he kissed the scar from apex to base.

He once thought too that it would be best to speak in order to get Marcus to do so. But Baird had quickly learned that there were times when that didn't have any effect. So he would shut his trap until Marcus was ready to speak. Touching him affectionately tended to speed up the process.

This is what he did now, willing to wait for his man to divulge what he needed while Baird began to toy with his hair. Every few seconds he glanced at his paramour, examining if there had been any change, and then would resume. After a few minutes, an idea had formed but he hesitated briefly before pursuing it. The next time he brushed his lips against the scar, he licked it.

Baird shuddered. He had always wanted to do it, but never felt compelled to do so. Presently, it was as if he couldn't resist and genially tongued his way to the top. It wasn't enough: he needed a more comfortable access to the scar. Hovering over him with his hand on his chin, not perceiving the piercing glare aimed his way, Baird tilted downward to rub his tongue into the scar.

A silky moan left him.

The world whirled past as he found himself lying on his back, arms pinned above him. His cock twitched as Baird drunk in the fact that the older man was still fast for his age. Frosty eyes captured his fleetingly before he caught sight of the scar. His tongue flicked out to dab his upper lip. The hands on his wrist tightened.


Baird stalled. His brows crinkled as he examined Marcus. "What?" He blurted out, a bit louder than necessary. It was incomprehensible. Baird knew about Marcus' scar because their son had asked during dinner and Baird was able to get the rest of the story afterwards. It didn't psychologically impact Marcus nor did it pain him. So why had Marcus reacted that way?

Without responding, Marcus simply loosened his grasp on Baird, eyes unreadable as he nimbly got off of Baird to resume his original position.

"Don't do that."

Baird stared unblinking at him, mulling over the past few minutes. He couldn't find anything that he had said to set his man off. Exasperated, he curbed the volume of his voice, running a hand through his hair. "Is J.D. here?"

"No." The reply was curt. He really didn't want to talk. That was just too damn bad.

"Okay. Good. Now do mind telling me what the fuck I did to piss you off? All I did was lick your face. I admit that it's something I've only done once but we've licked everywhere else. Why does it matter that I licked your scar?"

"This isn't a fucking contest, Damon." His tone was hushed as he regarded Baird coolly.

Baird narrowed his eyes. "What?"

"Are you trying to get me hard again so that you can try to one-up what happened?"

If it had been eight years ago, Baird would have ended their casual liaison. If it had been four years ago, Marcus would be dealing with an angry tirade. But now…now he just laughed.

He tried to hide it by turning his face away and clamping his mouth shut. But his whole body shook and it was forced out of him. It came from deep within his stomach and soon he was gasping for breath as he turned back to Marcus who slanted an eyebrow upward amused.

They both had come a long way. They'd fucked up their fair share and Marcus had been the reason for plenty of them. It was refreshing to be reminded that Marcus was as human and prone to make mistakes as anyone else. It wasn't out of animosity though—that had ebbed long ago. This side of Marcus was rarely viewed and Baird was the only one to see it most.

"I love you, you know that?" He confessed, finally being able to speak. "I'm not trying to compete with you, Marcus. I wouldn't be able to challenge you: you fucking win, hands down. If you need proof, my tent's pitched and has been ever since we bitched at each other. Ever since I woke up really."

His beau searched his eyes while Baird cast him a demure gaze. "What I meant by what I said was that I just want to make you feel like you make me feel. What we did in the shower was…honestly any word I use wouldn't be accurate. But if I'm cumming first and passing out—"

"Damon. I am more than satisfied." Marcus demolished Baird's worries per usual with his straightforwardness. "I have no problem telling you if and when I'm not. You getting off before me or taking a nap because of how I make you feel is the opposite of a problem. Not to mention my sore ass and back."

Baird smirked, rolling himself onto Marcus in order to lean over him. "Bum deal. I got out of it with sore knees. Let's play somewhere more comfortable next time. Like…on the beach we haven't christened."

"Might be more meaningful if we do it after you say I do."

He allowed himself a full-fledged smile then. "Do me a favor, will you? The next time I say something stupid like that, shut me up."

"Hard to do." He huffed as Baird jabbed his ribs with his elbows. "But deal."

"Good. So can I finish licking your scar?"

Those damn eyebrows. That seemed to be their favorite position: raised.

"Or do you really not like it? Because I really want to and with my lowered inhibitions—thanks to you—I feel like I'm going to do it anyway—"

"Then why are you asking?"

"Just trying to be respectful to my future husband."

"When did that start?"

"Around the time I first got to taste that sweet ass of yours."

A resounding slap on Baird's ass made him keen.

"Not as sweet as yours."

Yeah. Life hadn't ever been as amazing.

The Next Day: Azura Beach at Dusk

"I do." Marcus intoned warmly.

The sandy beach was painted a golden hue in the setting sun, blushing warmly due to its rays. The sky seemed fused with various colors that were further illuminated by it. Baird stood on the same beach that he had met Hoffman when Lyle Ollivar's trawlers were near. The one that had seen him throw a punch in anger to his beau. The very waterfront that Marcus and Baird began their new lives on Azura together. This was but another moment that would be memorable.

Baird wasn't paying attention to Hoffman speak —no way in hell was he letting that menopausal Registrar near their wedding— though he knew when his voice stopped, he should utter the binding words. He was overwhelmed over the reality of the situation. Dressed comfortably in attire similar to his most everyone—black slacks and a v-neck courtesy of some dead guy when he had situated in Azura—he centered his focus on his fiancé. An adoring gaze connected with him. So this was really happening then.

Oh. He had stopped. "I do."

A light breeze whipped around them, playing through ebony hair that Baird adored twirling fingers in or pulling on passionately. It kissing a clean-shaven face that belonged solely to him to brush his lips against. It rippled across his shirt that hid an appealing muscular chest that he had caressed many times over.

Too bad it wasn't doing anything for his rapidly heating skin.

Water lapped around his ankles as if to cool him and he glanced down at near three year old J.D. who tried not to squeal as the ocean touched his bare feet. He carefully held a small pillow that held two ebony silver rings etched with silver infinity symbols that wound together. After intently watching the water recede, the dirty blonde haired boy turned inquisitive blue eyes up to his father, warmly smiling as he held up the pillow like he'd been taught. Nothing could compare to having a child. The most hellish year of Baird's life had begun in Gale of 20 A.E., but it ended in the following year with the birth of his son. It was certainly worth it.

Baird chuckled, tussling his hair. "Not yet, J.D." Others shared in the moment with their own fawns—all except one blonde who unfortunately existed to witness such a tender moment between father and son. The frown that could scarcely be seen made him want to scowl.

There were only a few people surrounding Marcus and Baird, two who were generally unwanted by both grooms. Marcus being the generous-hearted man he was had invited Anya—only because Hoffman had been right next to her. He only asked after he found out how Baird felt about the situation. Something made him wonder if he had taken pleasure in seeing her reaction—to get her back to what she had done to them. Then again, it was the man who didn't like to bask in other people's pain.

Baird still didn't trust her though but he didn't want Marcus to be alienated from a woman who had been such an important part of his life if the bitch was innocent. He had seen the frigid looks his fiancé cast her. He was becoming more distrusting of her with each passing day. So he acquiesced.

Unfortunately, Levi was also invited. He hadn't run to Hoffman after Baird and Marcus pulled what they did—honestly, who would want to incur the wrath of Marcus mother-fucking Fenix?—but he made damn sure to weasel himself into anything that would annoy Baird. He had seen Levi walking with Anya and Hoffman towards the beach before the ceremony, J.D. in his arms.

Approaching him, Hoffman had simply said, "Poor boy seems to think that you forgot to invite him, Baird." And what could he say in front of his son that wouldn't come out as hateful?

I didn't forget.

There's a reason this whiny fuck isn't invited.

This isn't your goddamn wedding, Hoffman! Want to invite him? Finally tie the knot with old Granny, you geriatric fuck!

So he gave out a terse smile and a simple, "Oh yeah."

He knew that they had showed up to mar the otherwise perfect celebration with their presence.

"Don't know why the hell I'm up here to be honest, though I'm flattered to be asked." Hoffman's voice drifted into his ears and Baird caught the look that he had tossed him. An innocent smile graced his face which made Hoffman snort.

He was man enough to admit it: Baird had an ulterior motive in asking Hoffman to officiate their ceremony. It was to make Hoffman purposely uncomfortable. He had stealthily maneuvered the man into it by stating that it would be a show of faith to Gears that Hoffman truly had nothing to do with Cailen. And because his boy scout Marcus wanted it. The fact that Hoffman had no clue what the fuck he was doing was icing on the proverbial cake.

"And I feel like I've talked enough. It's time for the exchange of vows."

They had decided not to write them, but simply speak from the heart. As Marcus took his hands, Baird smiled smugly at the idea of Marcus speaking more than a few words. Only for him would he do so.

"Damon. You are the most infuriating egotistical unrelenting bastard that I have ever met." Laughs swept through the crowd and Hoffman cleared his throat, trying to hide that he was entertained.

Baird joined them. "Thanks, babe."

The edges of his lips turned up. "But you're also the most handsome, intelligent, and confident man that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I don't believe in luck, but it must be exist if I was able to meet you. I know that Heaven exists, because it's where I've existed when I fell in love with you. I can't wait to see what else you show me that I was wrong about. I'll always be here for you—" His eyes fell briefly on J.D. who gleamed"—and our son in this life and any one that possibly comes."

Baird beheld his Sergeant with reverence, his heart swelling with love at the fact that he claimed his son and him in front of everyone. His cheeks coloring as the crooks of Marcus' mouth raised higher.

"I do believe that this is the first time that Baird has been struck dumb." Peals of laughter met Hoffman's declaration as well as Baird's scowl.

"Watch it, old man." He groused, his expression melting into a gentle one as he resettled on Marcus. "I was just thinking 'I don't know how to top that'. And that's just it—I don't have to or want to. Because you're perfect in every possible way imaginable. Not to mention that you've done the impossible. The fact that I don't want to try and surpass you in areas that you excel me at should show that you've been nothing but a never-ending positive impact on my life. I just want to be with you when I make these discoveries. I want to love you with every part of me and never stop. It's not possible that I ever will. Because you are just that incredible. Both as a lover and a father. I didn't think that I was worth either of those and I admit how idiotic I've been. I love you and nothing will make me stop."

Marcus' lips were on his after he had finished, prompting Hoffman to chastise. "We're not at that part, Fenix!"

"Wait!" J.D. cried. "What about the whings? You supposed to wait."

"Couldn't help it." He muttered unperturbed as they parted. "I see why Damon likes to break protocol." More snickers from the crowd could be heard. He cast his eyes down to view J.D., whose pout was reminiscent of Baird. "Sorry, J.D. You're right."

Hoffman sighed, rubbing a hand across his face. "Good Lord. I never thought I would see the day that you would be corrupted by him, Fenix."

"It's more like reformed." Baird smugly responded, mocking eyes upon Hoffman. "Risk-taking is enticing especially if you have someone to do it with."

"Well, you two will have the rest of your lives to chafe my behind. Exchange your rings before I deviate myself."

"You're already way off base, Officiant." Baird retorted, nodding to J.D.

"Now, daddy." He whispered, raising the pillow above his head so that Marcus could retrieve one.

Marcus puff of air escaped him as his eyes twinkled. Grabbing Baird's left hand, he slid it on while compassionately expressed, "This ring embodies everything about us. The metal is precious and rare just as our love, you, and our son. The linking infinity symbols represents that I will be with and love you time immemorial. And the inscription inside reveals a fundamental truth that will never change: how much I treasure you in all ways."

Heart racing, Baird distractedly lifted his ring and repeated the words—or stumbled over them, he wasn't sure. After a few seconds in which he placed the ring on Marcus' left ring finger, he decided didn't care. He was definitely in the moment but that only involved the man in front of him. To be frank, he didn't even know if he had finished reciting before he placed his mouth on him, hearing a chuckle rumble from the other man and raucous bellows around them.

A squealing J.D. was clapping excitedly at his fathers.

Hoffman berated the both of them fondly before heading towards Bernie.

Cole's voice was the loudest amongst the throng.

It warmed him. Could it get any more perfect?

They reluctantly pulled away which allowed Baird to see that Anya and Levi were no longer there.

Yeah, yeah it could.

The reception was held in the cafeteria, artfully decorated in a beach theme that Cole was surprised could be drudged up. He watched people mill about the newly-weds and their son, extending their congratulations in person or conveying another sentiment. It hadn't meant to, but he let his gaze fall on Baird.

The last three years of their relationship had seen them back on track. They had made peace, and their strong bond seemed better than ever. He had been able to watch his buddy raise a child that he had never wanted to have before. His relationship with Marcus showed two husbands deeply enamored with the other though somewhat unsettling at time. There wasn't anything to worry about except a few things.

One was Baird's resistance to the past. He had brought up recently the night of Anya and Marcus' wedding and that conversation hadn't ended well. He had thought that three years would have been enough for Baird to open up about it, but clearly it had been deeper than he knew.

I wonder if that's why he didn't want me as his best man.

Baird held J.D. in his arms as he spoke to his son while carrying on a conversation with someone else. Baird had changed in a way that Cole would have never thought. Even though everyone seemed to like him better because of the fact that he was much less of an asshole, it told Cole that something had seriously affected him to the point that he had either wanted to change or had been forced to change. That was alarming in itself—Baird wouldn't change for anyone except himself.

Cocoa eyes swept towards Marcus who subconsciously moved closer to Baird so that the blond could sense him, engrossed in an exchange. Cole rubbed his chin with his fingers, scrutinizing the action while Baird leaned back to place a kiss on his cheek. That had to be the reason for Baird's abrupt revision or at least part of it. And it was his other worry.

Cole had never seen Marcus in the same way after that day in the hospital. He was wary. The alpha lion protected his family via subtle actions that unconsciously affected those who didn't recognize it. Marcus was stretched to his full height, exuding every bit of fearlessness and imminent danger he threatened to impose as a sun-tanned viridian-eyed blond approached anxiously.

He never spoke to Marcus without Baird around and he realized it was because he feared the man. Cole winced as if the icy stare fell on him instead of the kid trembling before Baird. Damn, what did the kid do? Was Marcus simply losing his cool on anyone that even approached his man and child? That wasn't good. Maybe he should ask Baird…or not. The last time he had asked him something intimately personal, it had led to a shouting match broken up by his then fiancé.

Cole nearly got knocked out because of it.

"What's wrong, hon?" Cole sighed as Sam sat next to him after giving him a kiss. She surveyed him."Still bummed out that Baird didn't have you as best man?"

Deciding to play devil's advocate, he shrugged. "Marcus didn't have one either."

"That's because Dominic isn't here." She countered. "Look at it this way: Baird's not as big of an arsehole as he was, but he's still an arsehole."

"I get why he didn't do it, Sam. He wanted it to just be his family. I get things have changed and I just want to be happy for him."

"No. You're thinking that he didn't do it, because of that fight that you two had the last time."

Cole gaped at her. "You know about that?"

"Of course I do, love. I care about you."

He shook his head guffawing. "Should have known better than to try to hide something from you. But seriously, I'm happy for them all."

"Is that why you're staring at them like you just caught the stomach flu?" His eyes widened in surprised. Sam laughed. "You're very expressive, love."

"Fine. You got me. I am happy for them for what it's worth. It's just they look a bit—"

"Over-dependent on each other." Anya interjected as she occupied Cole's other seat with a drink.

"Anya?" It was Sam's turn to be marveled. "I haven't seen you since the exchange of rings. Where have you been?"

"I got a comm to take care of some last minute business." Her smile at Sam was warm but her eyes cold.

It made Sam narrow her eyes but Cole didn't notice, his eyes veering over towards Baird. "Yeah. That's exactly it."

"Some relationships are fine like that. If it's a dynamic that works between them, who are we to judge?" Sam determined.

"A healthy relationship would require that individuals be able to operate in reality without the need of their partner." Anya sipped her drink. "I have it on good authority that Baird cannot function without Marcus in the vicinity."

Both gawked disbelieving at Anya. "So he likes to be around his man?" She snapped which made Cole raise an eyebrow.

He had no idea why she was angry. They could all see how much in love the two men were and that nothing that involved them was anyone's business but theirs. But on the same token, Anya just wanted to make sure that nothing was amiss in their strangely co-dependent relationship. Wasn't that what friends were for?

"Could you fucking blame him? They've had to hide for years because they thought they could get killed. Why wouldn't he want to be around him all the time?"

"Because of the fact that they would have become used to the fact of being 'out', Sam." Anya nearly sneered. "Three years is ample time."

"Not for all people." She seethed. "You don't determine how much time it takes for someone to get over something like that. Not even those particular people do. Just because you think you might get over something in six months doesn't mean you will."

"But in the interests of the COG, those who have very important positions such as the Corporal do not have the luxury to simply take a 'time-out' for an undetermined length of time. In fact, the Chairman has been a bit too lenient on the Corporal and that could be misconstrued as favoritism."

"How do you know that Baird isn't doing his job?" Cole's eyes flicked towards Anya. Baird had caught him staring.

"I've been receiving reports of intermittent blackouts occurring. Coincidentally, they all transpire when Marcus is away from either Azura or Baird for a significant length of time." Her voice was soft as she addressed Cole.

"And how few and far between are these blackouts?" Sam's voice matched her eyes now. Cole regarded her. Defending Baird hadn't ever been her objective—hell she'd had been putting him down earlier to him—but now she seemed incapable of doing anything else.

"I said they were 'irregular'—" Anya began slowly, as if speaking to a dullard.

"Which means they don't happen on a consistent basis, bitch!" Her temper was breached as she flared.

"Sam!" Cole stared at her shocked, reaching for her and looking decidedly hurt when she swatted him away. "Calm down, baby. Watch your stress level."

She struggled to compose her breathing, determined not to be appeased but knowing that Cole shouldn't be privy to the conversation. "I'm sorry, Cole." She whispered. "Hormones and all. Would you mind grabbing me some water? I'm thirsty. I promise I won't work myself up while you're gone."

"Yeah. I'll be right back."

As Cole headed off, Sam spoke slowly. "It means that he could be having them a lot or a little. And I'm betting it's the latter since Marcus hardly ever goes to the Mainland. The only reason why he does is because your jealous arse is pulling him there for something that could be easily appropriated for someone else. You're not helping him!"

Anya was no longer smiling. Her face had gone deathly still. When she next spoke, it was in a venomous whisper. "If this continues, Baird will be allocated to a position more suitable. It will also cost him the custody of his child since he will be seen as mentally unfit to parent one. Marcus would not be able to care for the child since he is not his biological parent, not to mention that he is essentially always on-call which would inhibit the growth of a child. Slander is also punishable by COG bylaws, Private Burns, so I would think very carefully about what you say next before you say it."

"Like you'd know what's best for a child." Sam spat viciously making Anya recoil. "And you fucking take a page in your book, hypocrite!"

She recovered quickly. "Just because you are having a child does not make you an informed individual. There is also no hypocrisy in my statements."

"I'm informed enough to know that if you tear that beautiful baby boy away from his parents, he'll be devastated." Her eyes became slits as she added threateningly. "And I will inform both Marcus and Baird exactly who is to blame."

A smile crept over Anya's face, but it was cruel. "Everyone is to blame for something, Sam. Even yourself." She enunciated carefully, ensuring that her message got across as the woman's eyes widened. "I would be careful about what you state in the future."

As Cole returned to her with a glass, she warmly smiled as she rose to leave. "Have a good night you two."

Cole bid adieu to Anya then tried his best to soothe his flustered woman, who shamefully avoided her eyes.

"Care to tell me what that was about?" He prodded.

Sam's countenance was flushed with anger, but she was trying to breathe steadily. "Something's wrong with her." She whispered, worry lacing her voice. "I know I went off on her—I get that Cole, I do—but I didn't mean to. It's just been this way for a while. It's gotten to the point where we can't even have a civil conversation without one of us trying to bite the other's head off."

"So the fact that you two's friendship's on the rocks means that there's something wrong with her?"

She glared at him. "No. I'm closer to her than you are, Cole, and just believe me when I say that she's changed. And not in a good way." She sighed, placing her hands on her protruding stomach as she stared at J.D. He was being showered with affection from his fathers. Blinking back frustrated tears, she hated the position she now found herself in.

I can't imagine tearing that boy away from them. She thought. How could she say that?

Cole smiled as she viewed Baird and his son. He could see that she was emotional and probably thinking about what it would be like to lavish their child with all of their affection. He kissed her cheek as tears fell.

Sam, though, was miles away. Maybe Anya was right—there would be times that Marcus would not be able to be around Baird and the blond would have to learn how to cope for the sake of his child. As they currently appeared, it didn't seem feasible. Especially if what she said about Baird and his black-outs had been true.

But she knew that no loving parent deserved to go through such hell. Cole was soon to be a father and if he had been in Baird's position, he would fight with everything within him to keep his child. Yet wouldn't a part of Cole understand that his child deserved someone that was mentally put-together. Would Baird understand that the less selfish choice required him sacrificing someone he loved more than life itself?

An hour later…Azura Beach

She watched the two walk hand in hand along the beach, the dozing youngling fast asleep while being held by Marcus.

The familiar revulsion, hatred, and fury surged through her. She had thought it would have been easier to quell as time had passed, but it seemed that all it had done was feed them. Before, she had been able to keep them separated from her everyday persona that everyone knew. Over the past few months, the toxic yet rejuvenating emotions bled into it.

It also became harder for her to be innocent around Marcus. She let her antipathy show a bit too much for his whore perhaps, because now he seemed to only bitterly tolerate her presence. But he knew nothing of what she had done over the three years to drive a wedge between them…or even what she planned to do.

A simple conversation could restore them to what they had been, but she knew that Baird had his claws in too deep for it to work.

The scene before her was yet another reminder of her undeniable defeat. Though Baird was fractured mentally, he seemed to be healing the more he was around Marcus. She'd have to redouble her efforts to find Marcus meaningless work on the Mainland of Kashkur instead of Azura.

Anya let her eyes rest on the sleeping young face. Something would definitely have to be done with that spawn. She wasn't heartless. She wouldn't kill it. But being sold to a passing Stranded gang would effectively get rid of the creature: no one would know where it was within a week.

Of course she knew that she could gain Cole's unknowing cooperation. She could see that he was disturbed by Marcus and Baird's relationship—how they rebuffed anyone trying to get too close to them. His naïve sentimentality was his weakness and Anya would happily exploited it to gather an unaware ally.

Sam? She would be a willing participant—coerced or no. She knew that Anya would divulge the secret of her having had an affair with a Stranded trader whose features resembled Dominic. That dalliance brought her pregnancy into fruition. And she would lose Cole—the one man that had put up with her when most others wouldn't.

Her plan was no longer to recapture Marcus' heart. He was madly in love with the fool and that was evident as they were pledging their lives to each other. She forced herself to leave under the guise of receiving a call so that she would not scream.

No. Her plan was to completely lay waste to Baird so that he would put his Gnasher shotgun into his own mouth to pull the trigger…without her having to do so. A psychotic break wasn't good enough—he needed to die. He'd do so by his own hands. That would, in turn, devastate Marcus who would possibly take his own. Or perhaps run to Anya for solace.

Either way, she herself would finally know peace.

"So enjoy yourself." Anya smiled, turning away. "My time will come."

There's a few things I must confess.

Firstly, I didn't plan on Anya being evil. Until I saw that Marcus and she have a son named-you guessed it-James Dominic Fenix in the upcoming game. That's BS with capital letters. She's sterile and cannot have children. It didn't say that she could possibly get pregnant. It specifically stated that she COULD NOT have children. Since I don't think she's a good fit for Marcus...I twisted her.

Secondly, there's not going to be anymore "stories" persay for this series. I might put up some one-shots of them (full of sex, of course) explaining what had happened between the years 20 A.E. and 23 A.E. and even some afterwards, but no more multiple chapters of them.

Currently, this is the end. I love this pairing and maybe I might find something else when Gears 4 comes out!

Thirdly, I would like to give a shout out to both DragonRider13025 and Deaven. The former who had messaged me about my story and made me want to finish it and the latter who has always shown undying love to my two fics. I sincerely appreciate you both as well as everyone who reviewed me.

Until next time! ^_^