To an End
by The Inimitable Pooh Bah
Thanks to: Owl for betaing.
Dedication: To Carla Jane. This is your fault. Heck, it's your fault I write fic at all. Just think how much happier the world would've been . . .
Date: June 7 - 14, 2001
Summary: It's amazing how low some people will stoop. Angst and slash (Logan/Krit UST).
Spoilers: "And Jesus Brought a Casserole."
Archive: List archives and by submission. Do not archive or repost without permission.
It's not love and it never was. From the moment we met, Krit has watched me with caution and made no attempt to hide it. He watches the whole world that way, and I'm just a part of it-- he's paying extra attention to me only as long as it suits him.
They trained him to know his enemy, to look for weaknesses and exploit them ruthlessly. It's been too easy for him--he has keen perception built in, and I wear my heart on my sleeve.
Max. It's all about Max. And Krit took that and ran with it. He used his face for all it was worth and added a few motions he'd picked up from his time with his sister, and he brought me down so goddamned fast that I'm still dizzy.
He's sitting on my bedroom floor in his jeans and tee shirt, hugging his knees, looking up at me with the same endless, painful eyes Max had. They're so much alike, Krit and Max. They have the same slender build, the same lips and chins and noses. They were made by the same uncaring scientists, grew up in the same cold lifeless compound, drilled and trained and marched together. Krit probably remembers the same horrors as Max, gets the same seizures, has led pretty much the same life of avoiding recapture. But somehow Max came out of it all with a beautiful humanity that they never planned, and Krit has stayed the detached and manipulative strategist they always wanted. Or maybe he's just fallen back into his caution and scheming because he's alone and he feels threatened by the world--but it seems to come to him far too easily.
"I'm sorry, Logan."
I'm not sure he's capable of sorry.
Maybe I was stupid not to see it coming. I knew the girls were designed with a seduction instinct. Take the enemy into bed, and you'll weaken him. Then you can gain intelligence, or make a kill, or turn him against his own. Max has used her body more than once to distract some thug so he wouldn't see her fist coming.
So why not the boys? They have beauty bred into them, just like their sisters. Having the instinct as well isn't a stretch. There's a fine line between catlike stealth and deliberate sensuality. I can't remember when Krit's motions stopped being just efficient grace. I can't remember when I started to see Max so strongly in his every move.
I probably drove him to it, with my stubborn refusals to help him. He tried other ways first. Asking nicely, begging, appealing to my caretaker instinct. There's nothing wrong with wanting his family back together, I told him, but I've lost Max and I'm not ready to rekindle my--her search.
In the X5s, I've seen all the love and hate and loyalty and fear and joy and pain that every human being experiences, but in them it's all far too strong. They have an intensity beyond human endurance. I'm not ready to be close to that again, so soon after losing Max.
I think it might have been better if Krit had just resorted to brute force. Then at least I'd know what to expect. But he decided on seduction and mind games, and he's starting to scare me--I guess that was the point.
He has a lover already, one of the girls, Jondy. He and Max talked about her for hours on the road to Gillette, how she lived with him in Las Vegas and liked to watch sunsets from her couch and had wanted to visit Max someday if Zack would ever tell anybody her location.
Krit hasn't forgotten her, either. He told me earlier about coming home to an empty apartment, how he'd been in too much of a rush to leave a note before he took off for Seattle to save Max, how Jondy must have gotten nervous that he'd disappeared without telling her.
I don't know how he could try to seduce me, with Jondy so firm in his mind. Maybe he figures that the end justifies the means.
Maybe he's just acting out of pure desperation--that's what happens when the odds keep mounting against you but you're too stubborn to give up. I know. I've been there. But my rash moments are nothing compared to what any one of the X5s must have under their belt. . . . They have a determination that I'm only beginning to understand. After a year with Max, after knowing all that Zack went through to avoid her recapture, after watching the four of them march back toward the hell they were born in without a moment's hesitation, I'm still only beginning to understand.
I can still feel Krit's weight pressing me onto the bed and taste his lips on mine and hear him whispering in my ear. But even now I can't fathom that raw, stubborn will, and I'm still surprised by what it can drive them to.
"I love you, Logan," he told me, and for half a second it was Max's voice. "I've loved you since the moment I saw you."
And that was a lie, the dirtiest damn lie I've ever heard. I don't know how he could do that to me--I'm hurting, I'm broken, it's just too low to take advantage. But they didn't raise him with basic human decency in mind, and I realize now that I'm just means to an end.
He tugged my shirt loose and trailed his big rough hands up my chest, and he wasn't Max, not Max at all, but I groaned into his mouth because somehow, in that moment, I still wanted him. That's what disturbs me the most--I still wanted him.
"Help me find them," he murmured then, the same request he'd given me when I answered the door and found him there, the same need he'd tried half a dozen ways to convince me of before he first kissed me, and I think he was genuinely surprised when I threw him off me and he hit the floor. I don't know if it was that I'd realized what he was really doing, or that I'd managed to resist all his enhanced wiles, or simply that he'd failed even though he's perfect.
I had my gun out of the nightstand before he collected his wits enough to pull himself upright. I have it trained on him now, as he sits there hugging his knees and I stand a good three yards away. He's still got that bewilderment in his eyes as he stares up at me.
"You're sorry?" I spit.
Krit winces visibly and looks away, toward the corner of the wall and the floor.
"You're sorry?" I ask again. "Is that all you've got to say?"
He bites his lip--Max never did that--and looks slowly back up at me. "What else is there to say?" His voice is catching and his eyes are wet. Tears seem out of place here, on someone as cold and manipulative as that bastard.
"You could tell me what the hell you were doing."
"I fucked with your head and I tried to use you and I was wrong and I'm sorry. I swear to God, Logan, I'm sorry." He swipes a palm over his eyes, then takes a deep breath and holds it.
He can't hold it half as long as Max used to. It comes out in a rush barely a minute later, and he sucks in another, hard.
I just shake my head. "What about Jondy? What were you thinking?"
He lets out his breath and shrugs with an awkwardness I've never seen before in any of them. He's looking calmer now, and he's eyeing my gun carefully. If someone had pulled a gun on Max, she would have been terrified, would have found some way to wrestle it away. Krit isn't scared of the gun at all, just wary, exactly like he's wary of everything else in his world.
"Maybe I wasn't thinking," he says. "Maybe it was just more of that instinctive shit I fight with every day. Maybe I just feel completely lost without a clue where Jondy is and if she even cares any more, and maybe I just hated you for being too full of your stupid self-indulgent grief to help me find my family."
"All that happened to you and your family," I snap, "is a little bit of panic and some miscommunication. You're big chimeras now. You're smart enough to find each other again."
He shakes his head. "It's been five months, Logan. I've looked for them the whole time, and there's nothing but disconnected phone numbers and missing person reports. . . . If I had even one of them, I'd be okay. Help me find just one, Logan."
"You were with Syl the last time I saw you," I remind him.
"She left me. She got out of the car before we hit Van's place, and she just walked away. God, Logan, don't you see where I'm coming from? I haven't got anybody in the world. No one can help me but you. Please don't give me any more of that crap about emotional exhaustion."
I narrow my eyes at Krit. "I think I'm entitled to stop and grieve."
He jumps to his feet, and I take a step backwards. I can almost see the wheels turning in his head--I wonder if I'd feel any safer knowing what he's thinking about, or if I'd really rather not know.
"Don't you talk to me about grieving," Krit snaps. "You don't know shit about that. I have lost five of my brothers and sisters this year. Maybe it hurts you to lose Maxie, but what about Brin and Ben and Tinga and Zack? You think they don't matter? You think I'm not hurting at all? I just want the rest of my family back together, before I lose them too. Is that too much to ask?"
"All I know is, you've got time. You've got all the time in the world."
"But what if we don't?" he demands. "We didn't solve anything back in Wyoming. We just made them madder. I don't want to lose any more of my brothers and sisters. I don't want to find out that they've been taken down one by one while I was trying to get some self-indulgent asshole to stop whining about how wrong the world is and actually do something to start fixing it."
I blink, and lower the gun just a bit. "Self-indulgent?"
"You're on the most incredibly self-indulgent guilt trip I have ever seen."
I raise the gun again when he stalks toward me, but he doesn't stop. I find myself backing away--I'm nervous, and he's taking advantage of that just like he took advantage of his resemblance to Max. I don't know if there's anything I wouldn't put below him right now.
"Stop right there," I order as I bump up against the wall.
Krit scoffs, reaches out a hand and wraps it around my wrist, pushes my arm down to my side and holds it there.
He slams me against the wall, holding me by a fistful of the shirt he never managed to get off of me, and leans in close. Our noses are about half an inch apart, and I can feel his breath against my face--it smells like baking soda and peppermint oil, probably another calculated imitation of Max.
"I hate you, Logan," he hisses. "Do you find that more believable? Does that make you happy?"
"Krit . . . "
"It's not true, though." He kisses me, hot and heavy and slow, then pulls away and fixes me with those dark eyes. "It's not true at all."
"God, Krit, don't do that again."
He runs his tongue along his lip--Max's lip--and smirks. "You're afraid of me."
"Maybe that's the smart thing. I know what you are and what you're capable of. You're desperate enough that you won't pull your punches much longer."
"I haven't been pulling my punches at all," he whispers. He's running his fingers down the side of my face as I'm dangling here above the ground, and I twitch.
"Help me find the others."
"Krit . . . "
"You had a deal with Max," he says.
"And I kept my end of it. I found Zack and Brin and Ben and Tinga."
He stops stroking my face to take a second fistful of shirt, then pounds me against the wall again and gives me a dark glare. "Liar. They found Max, or Zack hooked them up. You never found any one of us. You still owe her."
I glare right back at him. "When she comes back, I'll pay up."
He slams me against the wall again. "Max is dead!"
"Damn," I remark with sarcasm I didn't even know I had.
"Next of kin," Krit snaps. "You can do it for me."
This time, I hit the wall hard enough that I can't help grunting.
"Find one of them for me, and we'll call it even," Krit offers.
"Van. Find me Van. She'll know where everybody else is. And you'd like her, she's a hacker like you."
"Krit, are you listening? I said no."
"Or how about you find one of them for me, and I let you live?" he snarls, and slams me against the wall once more for emphasis.
I realize, suddenly, that he's holding me against the wall with both hands. There's nothing stopping me from using my gun . . .
"You wouldn't kill me," I say, trying to exude confidence.
"You're right," he agrees.
"'Cause I'm too valuable." I even dare a smirk.
My smirk disappears when he kisses me again. He leans in this time, presses his whole body against mine. "'Cause I love you," he corrects when he pulls back.
"Don't lie to me." I bring the gun up between us and touch the barrel to his stomach.
Krit freezes. He doesn't even blink. There's fear in his eyes, and I wonder if this is how Max stared at her shooter, before--
"Who says I'm lying?" Krit hisses.
It's too much for me, to hear that. I pull the trigger.
Krit's grip loosens and my feet hit the floor. I teeter a moment, but manage to keep my balance.
He staggers back a few steps, blinks slowly once, twice, three times and then his eyes stay closed. His knees hit the floor with a hollow thud. He's doubled over, face twisted into a grimace. Both his hands move slowly to stack over the dark red patch spreading onto his gray shirt.
I keep my gun trained on him as I move toward him and put my free hand on his shoulder. "Krit?"
His eyes snap open and the top hand darts up to bat my arm away. It leaves a print on my sleeve, smeared and red and accusing.
"Don't touch me," he snaps.
"But you're hurt."
"Only because you shot me!" He stumbles to his feet, still pressing on the wound, and backs slowly toward the bedroom door. The blood's seeping around his hands, oozing between his fingers, spreading to the rest of his shirt, dripping onto one leg of his jeans.
"Krit, stop. You need medical attention."
He shrugs nonchalantly, even though he's too pale to be believable. "It's nothing."
"You could die."
"Gee, wasn't that the point?" He creeps slowly out of the bedroom, down the hall. He keeps his eyes on me as I follow him.
"I'm waiting for you to collapse, Krit."
He snorts. "Like I'd give you the satisfaction?" But he's turned even paler, and his face is damp from the effort of his retreat. There's blood staining his lips now.
"You look like you're about to pass out," I tell him.
"Well, I'm tougher than I look. I can go for days like this, without medical help."
"I don't believe that."
He's stopped in the living room, leaning against a wall. If he can't even drag himself all the way out the door, there's no way he'll make it without a doctor.
"Of course not," he spits. "You never believed anything else I said, either. Didn't believe how much I needed to find the others, didn't believe I loved you."
"You were playing with my head--you admitted that yourself!"
"Didn't believe I was sorry," he mutters.
"After what you were doing? After you kept doing it?"
His eyes have gone teary again, and he aims them right at me. "God, Logan, I really was sorry . . . "
"Krit, shut up!"
His knees buckle and he slides down the wall to the floor. There's a heavy trail of blood marking his descent, and his eyes have turned glassy as they stare at me.
Oh God. I killed him. "Krit . . . "
But he isn't dead--he flinches when I reach for his neck to take a pulse. Maybe he is tougher than he looks.
He takes one hand off his stomach to help push himself upright, and he stumbles toward the front door again, a little faster than before. He makes it all the way out this time.
He turns around to answer me, walking backward as he does. "No, you stop, or I'll break your fuckin' neck."
So I stand there in my doorway, watching him limp down the hall and push the button for the elevator. He turns to face me, leans his shoulder against the wall as he waits.
"Don't worry about me coming back," he says. "You were right, we're smart enough to find each other. . . . " He catches himself doubling over again, and grunts as he shifts to stand straighter. "And there's nothing like a bullet in the gut to kill infatuation."
"You didn't love me," I say.
"Whatever you want to think," he whispers. His eyes are exactly like Max's again, exactly the way she used to look at me. And, as the bell dings and the elevator opens, I almost wonder if I thought wrong.
That look is gone in an instant, and Krit's eyes are hard and furious again. "And Logan? It's all over, now. After I find them, not one of us will ever contact you again."
"Fuck you," hisses Krit. The doors slide shut behind him.
Behind all of them.
Behind my last fragile link to Max.
And now I've lost her completely.
[ END ]
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