A Good Soldier by alyse [ - ]
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Category: Dark Angel > General
Characters: Alec, Other
Rating: NC-17
Genres: Angst, Character Study
Warnings: None

Summary: 494 is a good soldier. He's had to be.

Pairing/Characters: Alec/X5-494 (mentions of canon Alec/Biggs/Lola), Renfro

Story Notes:
Spoilers: Set between Season 1 and Season 2. Mild spoilers for Designate This and The Berrisford Agenda.

Many thanks to aithine for the beta read.

Written for MMoM.

494 is a good soldier. Any alternative to that is not an option. He obeys each order speedily and without question. He stands upright on parade, snaps to attention faster and fights harder and longer than most other X5s on the training mats.

Most. 494 is not exceptional.

He's not quite that stupid.

That's why when Renfro summons him to her office, he's not sure at first what she wants. He's not stupid and he's not careless, not any more. Not as far as he knows. But he spends the three point two minutes it takes him to jog down from the training grounds to the corridor outside her office reviewing each and every thing he's done over the last four weeks. And as he, like the rest of his class, has eidetic memory, he doesn't think he misses anything.

Renfro is not predictable but even she has patterns. To date, she has waited days, sometimes weeks, before she swoops in to punish a transgression, and 494 has the training and the insight to be able to determine her methodology. She waits until her target believes that they are safe, that they have, in the vernacular, 'gotten away with it'. And then - only then - does she strike.

She has never waited more than twenty-six days, and on that occasion the transgressor had been off site for the previous five.

494 reviews the last twenty-eight days precisely because Renfro is unpredictable, but, again, he is not stupid enough to believe that it will be enough. He has an understanding of religion from their lessons - enough to understand how it can be manipulated - and Renfro is, effectively, their God. Punitive, capricious and capable of great, disinterested evil.

She owns them, both figuratively and literally.

The concept would amuse her, he suspects. In a way, she encapsulates Manticore in all of its foetid glory, and he would never question her.

He hates her a little. But only a little, because he can't stand out.

He pauses outside her door for precisely five seconds before he raises his hand to knock. Any longer, and he risks her believing that he is afraid - which he is - or has a guilty conscience - which he doesn't, not any more. He may have had once but... The thoughts are vague, ill-formed, and he doesn't try to make them any clearer. There are some things that are better left in the dark, and he knows just enough - fears just enough - to know that those memories are one of them.

Any shorter than five seconds and she'd suspect he didn't fear her enough. 494 really doesn't want her to come to that conclusion. That way lies madness - for him at any road.

He fears her plenty. And she knows it.

"Come in."

He doesn't hesitate this time - no five or six second pause now - but slides into her office efficiently, with perfect economy of motion, and comes to a stop in front of her desk, snapping to attention.

She leaves him there for long moments while she busies herself with her paperwork but he doesn't fidget. He stands perfectly still, his face - and his mind - blank.

He doesn't tense when she finally puts her pen down and settles back in her chair, steepling her fingers together and staring up at him. He wants to - it's an instinctive response to any threat, readying yourself to run or to fight - but he's not stupid. Not anymore.

"Congratulations, 494." Her voice is pitched high, almost sweet, but there are undercurrents behind it that he doesn't miss. Something is pleasing her, and Renfro is never pleased unless someone else is broken and bleeding. "You have the opportunity to give your all to Manticore."

She waits patiently, like a spider in the middle of a web, wanting him to put one foot onto the strands. But she's fast and lethal - if he doesn't step on at all, she'll strike anyway and it will only bring the inevitable more quickly and, probably, more painfully.

"Ma'am?" He keeps his voice dutiful but not confused - never confused. Confusion implies that he hasn't figured out what's going on and worse, is curious about it. He's picked up on the sayings from Common Verbal Usage. He knows what curiosity did to the cat, and he's part feline.

He's taking no chances.

She leans forward again, tapping one bright red and lethal nail onto the papers in front of her. He keeps his gaze straight ahead, not glancing down at where she's pointing, and passes this test at least. He thinks.

"The '09 traitors have attacked the gene bank."

He goes cold, as he always does at the mention of his renegade twin and his cohort. X5-493 is dead, killed while trying to escape, but there's no escape from his legacy for 494. You can't outrun Manticore. 493 finally figured that one out.

He stays silent because, for once, he can't figure out the best option to take. The mention of the '09 traitors has thrown him. It always does, and Renfro isn't stupid either. She likes these games, and she's good at them. She always wins. Always.

For the X5s, the only victory is coming out at the other end alive.

"They destroyed it."

She rolls the words around her mouth like she's savouring them, and 494 keeps on staring straight ahead. It's safer that way. Marginally safer, anyway.

"No more X8s," she continues, watching him closely. "No more X9s. No more going back and figuring out what's wrong with your messed up genomes, hmmm, 494?"

Again, silence seems the safest option, though he's not sure that the question was rhetorical. She taps her fingernail on the papers again, and this time it sounds a little harder, more impatient.

"We're back to the old-fashioned way, I'm afraid." She doesn't sound afraid. The fear cadences are missing from her voice's register.

She sounds like 494 should be afraid.

He is.

This time she waits for a long moment, one that stretches out until he's too afraid to measure it. She simply watches him until he finally figures out that she's waiting for something from him. He looks down at her, meeting her eyes. They're cold. They're always cold. Cold and clinical and utterly human.

"Ma'am?" he asks again.

Her smile is wintry, fractured and shiny like ice. "We're going to do this the old-fashioned way," she repeats. "Which means that you've been selected for the breeding programme."

That catches him off-guard and he frowns, confused, until the fact that she's still watching him closely registers and he smoothes his expression out. She's still waiting, and this time he settles on a, "Yes, ma'am."

Her smile deepens, becomes something twisted, like dark, deep water. "Such a good little soldier," she purrs and that ice-water trickles down his spine. "Such a good addition to the gene pool..." She pauses and he knows that it's coming, the fatal blow. The one that will get him killed. Or played. With Renfro, they're both to be avoided.

"Assuming, of course, that your sperm is viable." He doesn't blush - this is nothing, this clinical description. This is nothing at all for Renfro, and he braces himself for what is coming next. He's not stupid enough to let it show. He's just not sure he's good enough that it doesn't.

"And, of course," she adds, back to purring again, watching him like he's the mouse and not the cat. "We do need to make sure that there's nothing... unfortunate... in your cocktail."

He would be dead by now if there was. He's been prodded and poked and... there are things he doesn't think about because he can't think about them. Things that are contrary to the ethos of surviving and 494 is a survivor. He's forty-seven days out of re-indoctrination, and he's staying out.

He's forty-seven days out of his third stint in re-indoctrination and there will not be a fourth. He suspects now that the only reason he survived three has something to do with the gene bank going boom. No. He's not stupid. And that's why he knows she hasn't finished.

"We need a sample, 494." Renfro drops her eyes down towards her paperwork again, even as one scarlet talon points to the plastic container on one side of the desk. He takes it as a dismissal until he picks it up and she delivers the sucker punch. "You can leave it on the desk when you've... finished." She doesn't even look up as she adds, "The hand wipes are over there. Do let me know if you need any assistance."

"Ma'am?" The humiliation is nothing new, nor is the fact that Renfro, again in the vernacular, gets off on it.

"I'm sure that we will be able to acquire some pornographic material if you require it."

"No, ma'am."

He likes to think that once he might have said something, something that would make her look up. Something that would cut through that veneer of banal evil she wears wrapped around her. Something that would have earned one of his stints in the basement, instead of having them earned for him by the twin he's never going to see.

He likes to imagine that he was that stupid once.

He's not now.

He takes the container in his hand, and takes two steps back and one to the side of her desk. Her office is small; there isn't anywhere else to go so he goes somewhere else in his head instead, somewhere where Renfro isn't sitting in front of him, ignoring him. Dismissing him like so much meat even as she makes damned sure that he can't tune out her presence entirely.

There's brown hair in his mind but Lola's was black; long and coarse and curly. She had a mouth to die for and it - smiled so sweetly - sucked so hard. Her fingers were - slight - tight and she knew how to - play - touch. Lola had a smile as wicked as Renfro's but hot, not cold, and she had let 511 fuck her too. Let both of them fuck her, 494 sliding into her wet heat while 511 slid into her ass, the pair of them moving together, as orchestrated in this - as easily, as smoothly - as they were in battle. She'd sobbed and cried and clenched tightly around him, 511's cock separated from his by thin and fragile flesh, so that he could feel each push of 511's cock into her, just as 511 could feel his. 511's hand on his arm, hot and hard, clutching tightly, fingers clenching, and the cooler, human flesh between them, soft and pliable.

He comes, quickly and efficiently and without much pleasure, depositing white streams of semen into a plastic container rather than into a female one. It makes no difference. One mission or another, they're all the same.

He's still alive to feel, even something as muted as this. It's not much but he'll take it. It's better than the alternative.

Renfro doesn't look up, even when he places the container carefully back on her desk; placing it, not slamming it down. He zips up, steps back, and still she focuses on her paperwork, her fingers steady and her demeanour cool.

"So soon?" she murmurs, still not sparing him the dignity of a glance as she slides those talons in. "My. How efficient, 494."

He doesn't rise to the bait. She's the predator here, in spite of the fact that she's fully human. And Manticore thinks it's their animal DNA that makes them dangerous?

She doesn't reach for the container. Doesn't look up. Simply dismisses him with the wave of one hand and, "That will be all, 494."

He turns on his heel and leaves. He doesn't look back.

He never looks back. That way lies madness, too.

The End