- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Science Fiction
You get to choose what monsters you want to slay.
Will stood on the roof of the Sanctuary, staring out at the twinkling lights of the city below. It had been a helluva week, though it felt a lot longer than that.
After their raid on Rosetta, they’d brought back the five people they’d found imprisoned in the sub-basement. It turned out that they’d all volunteered for what they’d thought was a drug trial. They’d signed non-disclosure agreements and agreed to stay overnight at the facility so they could be monitored.
None of them had anticipated what would be done to them, and by the time they’d realized that the drug trial they thought they’d signed up for wasn’t really a drug trial, it was too late. The Cabal hadn’t even waited for Forsythe to prove that her serum would work; they’d started rounding up guinea pigs almost as soon as she’d put the finishing touches on her serum.
Forsythe, it seemed, had nursed a grudge against Magnus for a number of years for what she’d perceived as the woman ignoring her and rebuffing her attempts to reach out. So, her choice of test subject had been driven in large part by her desire to get revenge against Magnus for her past treatment of Forsythe. Magnus, for her part, hadn’t even remembered who Forsythe was.
Which didn’t help Will or the other five victims. He’d spoken to each of them, and to a person, they were all shocked and angry. Will could relate; after all, he’d had the same reaction when Magnus had explained what Forsythe had done to him. When Magnus had suggested that he be the one to counsel the victims, he’d balked. He was in no position to help them through this whole experience when he was still trying to cope with it himself. Magnus had simply said that that’s what made him the ideal person to help.
He still wasn’t sure she was right, but he wasn’t going to argue the point any more. The fact was, they were all in the same boat, and if they could help each other through, wasn’t that better than doing it alone?
“Here you are.”
Will turned to find Magnus leaning against the doorjamb of the roof access door, arms crossed, looking as immaculately turned out as she had when they’d met that morning for a progress report. Crisp white blouse, slim black skirt and those damnable heels that made her almost as tall as him, she was a sight to behold, and he found himself reacting to her in a still-unfamiliar way.
She pushed off the wall when he didn’t respond, walking over to join him near the parapet he’d long-ago claimed as his own. She ran a hand over his shoulder and down his arm, lacing her fingers with his and sqeezing gently.
“Are you alright?” she asked, a small frown creasing between her eyes.
“Yeah,” he said. He could feel his gut unclenching, just from having her near. It was still such a wonder to him that she could make him feel such things. “Yeah, I’m okay. Just thinking.”
“Over thinking, rather,” she said pointedly.
“Maybe,” he said on a shrug. “I can’t help but wonder about what they were going to do with our newest guests. I mean, they created these Sentinels. Did they have Guides in mind? Or is there a serum out there that’ll turn some unsuspecting person into a Guide the same way they turned us into Sentinels?”
“Henry and Nikola are still going through the data we copied,” she said. “The Big Guy is searching for any data on the dark web about potential Cabal activities. We’re hoping our little raid came as a shock to them and they haven’t had time to set up another operation. Plus, we did corrupt their data during our little excursion, so that’s at least something.”
“Doesn’t mean they can’t start over someplace else,” he said. “That’s what I worry about. That they’ll start over and do this to someone else. Or a lot of someone elses. And we won’t get there in time and—”
Magnus laid a finger over his lips. “Stop trying to borrow trouble. We’ll keep an eye out and be there the next time they try something like this.”
Will relaxed just a little. He could feel her certainty through their bond, which was a source of wonder all its own. The longer they were bonded, and the more time they spent together, the more they could sense each other. Magnus was still doing research on what they could expect, but so far it had been anything but burdensome. It had been… kind of great, actually.
“I think I’ve lost you,” she said with a small smile.
He shook his head. “Sorry. Wool-gathering.”
“Come on,” she said, tugging on his hand a little. “The others are gathering in my office. We’ll go over what we know and talk about next steps. You’ll do better if we have a plan.”
“Probably,” he said, shaking his head. He hated being so transparent, but he had a feeling that wasn’t due to the bond, but due to him just being him.
Magnus leaned in and pressed a kiss to his lips. Will relaxed into the kiss, wallowing in the rightness of it for a few moments. When he pulled back, her eyes were shining with joy. It was so good to see that look back that he was almost grateful for the events of the last week if it meant he could see her look like that more often.
“The others are waiting,” she said. “Shall we?”
“They can wait,” he said, pulling her to him and wrapping his arms around her.
Kissing a girl—his girl—on the roof overlooking the glittering lights of the city was far more important at the moment than a room full of people, even people he liked. Besides, they weren’t going anywhere.
“So nice of you to join us,” Tesla said as Will and Magnus finally made it back to her office.
Tesla was smirking, as if he knew what they’d been doing for the last ten minutes or so. He probably did, but that didn’t mean Will couldn’t rub his nose in it a little.
“The roof, the stars, the lights of the city and a pretty girl,” Will said airily. “How could I resist?”
“Touché, my friend,” Tesla said, raising his glass in a mock toast. “Touché.”
“Alright, if you gentlemen have had enough,” Magnus said as she took her seat near the fireplace. Will settled in beside her, earning another smirk from Tesla. “Henry?”
“Right,” Henry said. He tapped a few commands on his tablet and new screens started popping up on the monitor that never seemed to have left Magnus’ office. “So, we’re nowhere close to being done going through the data we stole—um, liberated,” he amended at Magnus’ frown.
“No, in this case, I’d say we stole it,” Tesla said. He tossed his own smirk at Magnus before he went on. “At any rate, the data we have been through suggests that their testing phase has been going on for a while. There were a few… mishaps along the way. If we catch these bastards, we could probably make a case for murder. It’s one of the reasons why they brought Forsythe in.”
“But I thought she didn’t have the know-how to create the delivery system,” Will said.
“She didn’t,” Henry said. “But she had the genetics knowledge to find the exact genes they were looking for. Before they recruited her, they’d tried this with a few test subjects, but they didn’t survive the transformation.”
“From what the research notes say, they’d tried using the source blood undiluted at first,” Tesla said darkly. “There are pictures—which you don’t need to see, ever, by the way—that show the results. It was a gruesome way to die, and yet they tried it three times before they realized they were going to need some more specialized help.”
“That is truly horrifying,” Kate said.
“I thought they’d used the entire sample to try to create those super soldiers?” Will asked.
“Apparently not,” Tesla said. “Or they were able to procure another sample from somewhere. I’m not sure you could replicate it or grow it in a lab, but regardless, they had more than enough for their purposes.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t look like they knew how powerful it was,” Kate said. “I mean, the last time the Cabal used the source blood, they created mindless super-creatures. Sorry.”
Kate turned apologetic eyes to Magnus, who flashed a brief but sorrowful smile on her. Ashley’s death still haunted her, even to this day. Will slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. She leaned into him, accepting the comfort he was offering her. Other than a wide-eyed look from Henry, no one seemed to notice or care.
“Remember, the people in charge of the Cabal now were the flunkies from the last iteration,” Tesla said. “They had what they thought would be a gold mine, only to realize they had no idea what to do with all the gold.”
“Do we know who they hired, beyond Dr. Forsythe?” Magnus asked.
“We’re still searching though the records,” Henry said. “I’m building a list, but it’ll take time. Safe to say it’s not anyone we’ve ever heard of. Kinda not their style.”
“They’re looking for the disenfranchised, the disappointed, the marginalized,” Tesla said. “I’ll start looking around at scientists who’ve fallen out of favor in the scientific community and dropped off the grid. If they’ve got another lab someplace else, they’d have had to hire someone to staff it.”
“What about the break-in?” Will asked.
“Our little nighttime excursion hasn’t turned up on the news yet, if that’s what you’re asking,” Kate said. “I’ve been checking all the local and national feeds and I got nothing.”
“Not a surprise, really,” Magnus said. “It’s not like they could call the authorities to report a break-in. They’d have to explain what was stolen and why. I can’t see them taking that risk, just in case the authorities turned up something untoward during the course of their investigation.”
“We set up some cameras around the building, to keep an eye on things,” Henry said. “They moved out of the building the next day. Packed everything probably including the kitchen sink and bugged out of town.”
“Any idea where they’ve gone?” Will asked.
“There’s another Rosetta-owned property outside Toronto,” Biggie said. “I’m tracking a couple of more properties they own as well. If they show up, we’ll know.”
“And do we have any information on their activities beyond these experiments?” Magnus asked.
“I’ve found references to offers of a serum for sale,” Biggie said. “Says the serum will give a person super-human capabilities.”
“That sounds alarmingly familiar,” Tesla said. “Has anyone made a purchase yet?”
“Not that I can find,” Biggie said. “But I’ll stay on it.”
“Alright,” Magnus said, effectively bringing the meeting to a close. “We’ll gather again tomorrow to check in. I want to make sure we’ve covered all angles before we close the book on this case.”
“Looks like you and I have another date, Wolf Boy,” Tesla said with a disturbingly large grin.
Henry just shuddered as he stood up and headed for the door. “Just as long as you eat before you visit my lab. I am not food, no matter what you might think.”
Tesla laughed loud and long at that as he followed Henry out of the room. Kate and Biggie followed, playfully jostling each other as they went. That left Will and Magnus alone in her office once again.
Will took a deep breath, pulling Magnus even closer. He pressed a kiss to her head, sighing when she just leaned in closer.
“Nikola has been a revelation,” Magnus murmured.
“He’s like a dog on a bone,” Will said, chuckling. “I didn’t think it was possible for him to be this altruistic. He’s even been working with our guests on their skills, trying to help them moderate their instincts so they don’t run away with them.”
“He is capable of being selfless,” Magnus said. “He did, after all, work with us during World War II. It was his work with the code-breakers that helped create the wireless teletype machine we used to use to communicate with one another.”
“I guess I’ve just never known him to care about anything beyond his small world,” Will said. “He’s actually… not a bad guy. And if you tell him I said that, I’ll deny it to my dying day.”
“Duly noted,” Magnus said. She leaned her head back and looked at him. “How are you really? All this talk of the Cabal and what they were trying to achieve, plus whatever the Big Guy has discovered, has to have unsettled you.”
“It does,” he said. “But we also have a great team—Tesla included—and I know we’re not going to let this go until we’ve finished the job.”
“No, we won’t,” Magnus said. “Apart from the impact it’s had on you, I’m not inclined to allow the Cabal—in whatever form it’s taking now—simply run amok in the world creating genetically enhanced beings they have no hope of understanding or controlling. We—The Five—we’re responsible for bringing the Source blood into this world. I have a responsibility to make sure that mistake doesn’t destroy this world.”
“It’s not your fault the Cabal took an interest in the Source blood,” Will said. “They’re responsible for their own actions. But I don’t disagree that the Sanctuary is in the best position to stop them. And we won’t stop until we have. I promise you that.”
“Thank you for that, Will,” she said. “In some ways, I think the greatest blessing that’s come from of all this is you. Out of all I’ve lost and gained as a result of my encounters with the Source blood, you are easily the best part.”
“I—don’t know what to say,” he said, glancing away. He looked back at her, shifting a little on the couch so he could look her in the eye. “Maybe it’s too soon to say this, but I love you. I think I’ve always loved you, ever since that first time I met you when I didn’t even know who you were. And then you hit me with your car, and I fell a little more in love with you. And I guess I’ve been falling a little more every day, until I can’t even remember a day when I didn’t love you.”
“Oh, Will,” she said. She lay a hand on his cheek, smiling gently at him as she spoke. “I think I’ve known since the beginning that you were in love with me. I thought that it was more hero worship than truly romantic love, and that thought made me sad, though I tried to run away from that truth for a long time. I told you once that I’ve loved John for so long that I don’t know who I am without him. The truth is that, over the last few years, it’s my relationship with you that’s defined me, and I hadn’t even realized it. I do love you, Will. I think I always have, though I tried to run away from it for a while. Living as long as I have—as long as I will—made choosing life partners… hearbreaking, to own the truth.”
“But not anymore,” Will said with a smile. “I’ll be around for a good long time, and I promise I will never leave you lonely if I can help it.”
“I know,” Magnus said. “And for that I can be nothing but grateful. To know I won’t face a day without you is a comfort all its own.”
Will stood up and held out his hand. “How about we get started on all those years together?”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Magnus said as she stood up.
She took his hand, and together they headed for her rooms. Will knew there were things they’d have to discuss—the logistics of a life together—but for tonight, he just wanted to enjoy having Magnus close. The rest would work itself out.
Now, they had time for it all.