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» The Shadow of Life, 13th Dec 2014, Alec
Mickey Ng
 Posted: Mar 6 2014, 08:25 PM
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13 December 2014
Afternoon


She had given Cartwright two days to come to her and he hadn't yet taken the opportunity and by now Mickey didn't think that he would voluntarily seek her out. Which meant that it was up to her to initiate contact and make the inevitable happen. The both of them being here at the motel now, they would certainly run into each other sooner or later, and Mickey would prefer it if she had at least some modicum of control over the situation and since Cartwright seemed to have decided to avoid her at all cost, the job of making the first move was up to her.

She still hadn't quite forgiven Casey for keeping her out of the loop when it came to extracting Cartwright, but since it had - by all appearances - been a successful breakout, there wasn't much she could hold against either the Marshal or those who had been involved with the operation. What was done was done. Cartwright was free now, but for the rest of his life he would be a wanted man and not just for being a runaway slave, but for having fatally shot his owner and the head of security in Adlai. The Adveni weren't likely to leave that alone.

As for herself… she would never be able to forgive what she had done. Or not done as the case was. She hadn't protected Andy or Dash as she had promised and as a result, they had both died. By now, she had heard the rumours - that it was Cartwright who had shot Andy that day at the square - but she refused to believe them. Didn't want to believe them. The idea of it was too horrible to contemplate and she pushed the thought of it to the back of her mind as she headed for the room where Cartwright was staying.

She slowed as she approached, doubt boiling up inside of her. Cartwright wouldn't want to talk to her, she knew that, but she couldn't just leave these things unspoken between them. She doubted that Casey would ever put them on a team together, but even so, she couldn't personally leave this to smolder for very much longer. It was time to face it, whether she or Cartwright wanted it or not. Taking a breath, she stepped up to the door, raised her hand and knocked three times, hard.

And waited…


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Alec Cartwright
 Posted: Mar 8 2014, 10:57 AM
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Alec slowly eased the handgun into his injured hand. Just the weight of it sent small spasms of pain up through his arm. He gritted his teeth and slowly tried to fold his fingers around the slide to pull it back and empty the chamber. The increasing pain and the strain made his hand shake and as it became too much he dropped it to the floor. He couldn't do it. Alec stared down at his hand, which was still shaking, frustrated that the wound made him feel utterly useless.

What good was he to the Eighth if he couldn't handle a weapon? Maybe that was what Casey had realised when he'd told him to stay put and rest. Alec frowned. He'd tried resting but every time he closed his eyes he saw Maric. Or Dash. Or Andy. Sometimes it was Ack. After some time he'd given up on sleep and done the only thing that helped him think: clean his gun. He'd lost count of how many times he'd taken it apart, cleaned the inidividual parts, and then put it back together again only to repeat the process.

Alec breathed out, picking the gun up again. Pressing the button he let the full clip fall to the floor. After making sure that the safety was on he jammed the slide between his arm and his ribs, using a different method to eject the remaining bullet from the chamber, before he slowly proceeded to take the gun apart. Alec had done this so many times through his life that he could probably do it in his sleep but he'd found that it helped keep him focused.

Sliding the trigger into place he was just reaching for the hammer when three hard knocks echoed through the room. He hadn't bothered unpacking what little he had taken with him. Pausing, he looked up. Maybe Casey had finally decided to give him something to do. Very few people knew he was back aside from Addison and Casey as he'd kept to his room for the last two days. Despite their arguments Ty had even brought him food and quietly kept him company as he'd chewed it down. He had no idea if she simply didn't want to see him eat alone or was there to make sure he was eating. Putting the shell of the handgun down on the floor he got to his feet and approached the door.

Alec had expected it to be Casey, or maybe Ty, so when he saw Mickey on the other side of the door there was a distinct look of disappointment in his eyes. He tapped his fingers against the door a couple of times as he decided whether or not to slam the door but in the end he not to. As little as he wanted to talk to Mickey right now, she was still his superior. He backed away from the door, returning to his seat on the floor. With his legs crossed he leaned over the gun and slowly continued to put it back together.

"What do you want?" he asked without looking up.


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Mickey Ng
 Posted: Mar 11 2014, 05:08 PM
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The wait for him to open the door seemed to take forever and in those long moments, Mickey started to lose her courage, her conviction that she was doing the right thing by coming to Cartwright. By the time he’d opened the door and she saw the look in his eyes, she knew that she had made a mistake, that it would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie. But it was too late. Even as she expected him to shut the door in her face and accept it, he did the opposite: opened it further and moved backwards, giving her a grudging invite to step inside.

What do you want?

An irrational memory of an old television show surfaced, a mysterious character going around asking all the major players that same question. What do you want? For long moments, she was stunned into silence, trying to remember what those characters in the show had answered and not recalling, then drew a breath and stepped inside, closing the door behind her. "I want to talk," she replied, staying by the door, a wave of concern passing through her as she saw what he was handling.

Had she been in charge, this man wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near a weapon under the present circumstances. She was no psychologist, but she was fairly good at reading people and Cartwright didn’t appear to be particularly stable at the moment. After what had happened to him, she couldn’t blame him but she sure as hell wouldn’t let him have a gun either. And not just because she worried he might want to blow his own head off. On the other hand, she wasn’t even going to attempt to take it off of him.

"I just want you to know that I was there," she began, voice breaking and her steely expression cracking. She’d had to deliver bad news before, death notices and she’d even lost colleagues and had grieved them But never anything like this. This was new, and she had no idea how to handle it or what to say. "At the square when…" She couldn’t go on, the words felt like they were choking her and she stood back against the door, one hand around the knob, ready to wrench it open to escape.


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Alec Cartwright
 Posted: Mar 13 2014, 02:26 AM
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Alec placed the trigger into its place, continuing to put the gun together with an ease that came from years and years of experience with handling weapons. When Mickey explained that she wanted to talk a bitter smile passed over his lips only to fade again. So she wasn't here on official business. Great. He wished he'd slammed the door in her face. Picking up the spring he spun it between his fingers for a moment before sliding it into place.

The gun was the very same he'd used to shoot Maric with. The one Ty had given him a couple of days before and the one she'd taken away from him while Yorke had worked on removing his collar. She'd hesitated in giving it back to him but in the end he'd kept it. Casey probably didn't even know he had it. He looked up at Mickey and from one glance he could tell that she didn't like him having it, either.

Ignoring it he looked down again, a frown surfacing as he put the gun down and reached for the empty magazine. Picking up a couple of the bullets he slowly started popping the back in, all the while listening to Mickey. She wanted him to know that she'd been there. He paused. Was she talking about when he'd shot Maric? He continued to slot bullets in. No, Ty had told him that the only other person who'd known about it was Yorke. When Mickey continued, mentioning the square, Alec's finger slipped and sent one of the 9 mm bullets to the floor. He put the magazine down.

She was talking about the execution.

Alec looked up towards her again. She'd not even made a motion to move away from the door. Alec suspected she didn't really want to be here, the way her finger clutched to the door knob. It only served to ignite his anger again. The events of the last week had been playing on repeat in his head ever since Ty had pulled him out. "When what?" he snapped. His eyes narrowed but he didn't move from where he was seated, instead curling his hands into tight fists that sent a wave of pain through his wounded hand. It hurt but the pain helped keep him seated.

"You were there when they what, Mickey?" he demanded, his voice growing louder. "Go on, say it." Alec could tell that it was hurting her but he didn't have it in him to forgive her. As far as he was concerned she was to blame for Andy being there in the first place. She'd promised to look after his little brother for him and now he was gone. He grit his teeth.


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Mickey Ng
 Posted: Mar 14 2014, 07:06 PM
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The further Cartwright got in assembling his weapon, the more nervous Mickey got. It went against all her instinct to just stand here and watch while he continued to put together a lethal weapon that he might turn on her once he finished. Unconsciously, her free hand went behind her back, to wrap around her own gun, which was tucked into the waistband at the small of her back. Another thing that had gone against all training. Carrying a gun like that was dangerous and stupid. It belonged in a holster and if not in a holster, then in a hand. But she'd gotten over that and for the time being, she let Cartwright continue with his work.

His words when he spoke felt like a punch to her gut and it took her breath away in a way that she'd never thought two simple words could. Everything from that day came flooding back. How she had made the decision to go to the square to stand as a witness even though she'd had Sebastian O'Kelle with her. How she had stood by and done nothing when Dash Nixon had been brought out on stage to be executed. How she had been fully prepared to kill Andy when he'd been put to the torturous Adveni execution device if it hadn't been for O'Kelle getting in her way. How someone else had done the job for her.

She clenched her teeth, blinking back tears and was unable to find words to respond. Cartwright's repeated demand made her flinch and draw in a shaky breath. He had every right to be angry with her, every right to blame her for not getting his brothers out of the tunnels, but she wasn't going to comply. She couldn't make herself say those words. "I wanted to end it," she said instead, knowing that Cartwright would understand what she meant. "I tried to, but Se-- somebody stopped me. Got in my way." She wasn't sure that she'd forgiven O'Kelle for doing that. Standing here, in this room, with Cartwright's accusation feeling like a tangible thing, she almost wished that she'd been captured or killed herself that day.

"Hate me if it helps, Alec," she continued, finally looking over at him with a tight expression. She knew that in the long term, such hatred would ruin him if he wasn't already ruined. But maybe in the short term, it would get him through. She hoped he would make it, that he didn't end up turning that gun on himself. She knew what it was like to be alone in the world. Up until now, she'd successfully compartmentalised and had survived on pure stubbornness and determination. But now it all came flooding back without warning - how much she missed her husband and her family - and she could feel her lips trembling as emotion threatened to take control.

She pulled herself from inaction, turning away from Cartwright before he saw the tears that had begun to roll down her cheek. This was definitely not what she had envisaged happening when she'd decided to seek him out. She had wanted to clear the air, make sure that he knew how she felt and how sorry she was. But now, in the span of a few short minutes, everything had changed and all she wanted was to escape and find her way back to the safety of cold, hard rational thought.


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Alec Cartwright
 Posted: Mar 16 2014, 04:06 PM
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Alec noticed the hand slipping behind her back. He'd carried a handgun hidden beneath his shirt at the small of his back enough times to know that she was packing. It made him snort. Was she scared that he might turn the gun on her? His gaze flickered towards the gun and then back towards Mickey again. Would she pull the trigger to save her own life? Alec raised an eyebrow. If he'd been in her shoes he probably would have. He almost felt tempted to try, just to see how she'd react.

"You planning on putting me down, lieutenant?" he asked bluntly. Alec's gaze drifted off to find the bullet he'd dropped and as he spotted it he reached out to pick it up. Twirling it between his fingers his eyes fixed on Mickey again as she very clearly struggled to answer him. She couldn't even say it. Couldn't even say their names. It only made him more angry. She hadn't been the one to pull the trigger on his little brother, and now she wanted to explain herself?

Alec picked up the clip and chucked the bullet in, reaching for the gun next. A bitter smile settled on his lips as he shook his head. Her excuse even made him chuckle as he slapped the magazine into the beretta. His chuckle was quickly repressed by a low hiss as his hand throbbed from the movement. Slowly closing his hand around the slide he started pulling it back, trying not to focus too much on the pain it caused him.

"Somebody stopped you? How convenient, huh? Good for you."

With the gun fully loaded and functional Alec turned it over in his hand. She told him to hate her if it would help. he looked up, only just catching a look at her before she turned away. He could have sworn she looked like she was about to cry. And why? For his brothers? Because she hadn't looked after Andy like she'd promised? He dragged his teeth over his lower lip, trying to control himself, trying to focus the anger but she was making it hard for him.

"Sorry if I'm not in the mood to hug it out," he retorted. "Watching your brothers die kind of does that to you." Alec pushed himself to his feet and stepped up to the door, opening it and motioning towards the hallway. Even seeing the tears running down her cheeks didn't make him flinch. Crying wouldn't make a difference. Dash and Andy was still dead. He took a small breath. Remembering hurt. He wished he could just forget about all of it.

"If that's all you've got to say to me then get out."


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Mickey Ng
 Posted: Mar 25 2014, 08:47 PM
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'Do you want me to?' she thought at his question, but didn't give voice to the ominous idea. Instead she gave a little flick of her brow. She would do what she had to to protect herself and she was confident that if he did turn that gun on her, she wouldn't have to kill him. She was a good enough marksman to injure him, maybe even shoot that weapon right out of his hand. She'd never actually done anything like that and she hoped that she wouldn't have to attempt it.

She should have known that coming here would do no good. Not for herself, certainly not for Cartwright. His angry and spiteful comeback to her confession that she'd wanted to kill Andy herself if she could have made shiver. The way he said it, the tone of his voice. He'd really done it, hadn't he? He'd been the one who had killed Andy that day. It made her feel sick to the stomach, made her have a sudden flash of her own brother up there on that stage, going through what Cartwright's brother had. Would she be able to pull the trigger if it had been Jackson? It wasn't something she could answer and she pushed the thought away, telling herself that Jackson was already dead and so was James. It wouldn't ever be a situation she would have to face.

She had the door ajar when she heard him stand, all the muscles in her body tensing as she waited for him to fire the gun or come smack her in the back of the head with it. Instead, the doorknob was yanked out of her hand as he pulled the door open and told her in no uncertain terms to get the hell out. She looked up at him, not caring that he saw the tears. She was crying for Andy, for Dash, for her own brother and for her husband. For her family and for all the millions who had lost their lives in the invasion and the ensuing war.

It was the first time she'd cried, though there was no way she could tell Cartwright that and she knew he wouldn't listen anyway. She gave a small nod, reached up to wipe the tears away and left without saying another word, a feeling of hopelessness and despair flooding her as she hurried back to her own room to lock herself inside, so she could weep without anyone else seeing.


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