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Devil's Destiny



Chapter 8

From the garage, Sonya could smell smoke. So could Jaxx. They shared a look of concern before readying their guns and making their way around the house. Sonya waved to the back, signaling Jaxx to take the backdoor. Cautiously, Sonya moved up the front steps and quietly opened the door. She searched the front hall. It was wrecked. The small table with vases on top was cracked on the floor, the flowers strewn everywhere. Her blood began to pound in her ears as thousands of thoughts raced through her mind. How? Was it really possible? Did someone tail Jaxx here? Tail Johnny here? Stepping softly down the hall, she checked the closet and the sitting room, which was also in much disarray.

Something muffled came from the next room. Sonya leaned against the wall and peered into the living room. The couch was missing its cushions. The tables were on their backs, magazines knocked all across the floor. The pictures on the walls were crooked or cracked on the floor. And as for the noise... two people were making out on the TV. That didn't help Sonya's upset disposition at the moment. Then a scream alerted her of a presence in the kitchen.

Quickly she ran in. "Freeze!" Two more screams as two bodies covered in white faced her with their arms in the air. Then Jaxx burst through the door, and another two screams followed.

"Sonya! What the hell are you doing?!" Sonya's gun lowered as she looked carefully to see Johnny's confused eyes staring at her from under the thick white powdery substance.

"Johnny?" Jaxx asked, lowering his gun. A grunt escaped his lips as he was hit in the back by something hard. He turned to see a frying pan fly at his face. It clanged against him, and he fell on the floor.

"Ack!"

"Kaoru!"

"Hey Kid, stop!" Johnny and Sonya ran into each other trying to get the pan away from Kaoru. Right where they collided, there was an unnoticed, until the ironic moment, puddle of water, and the two martial artists slipped, flipped, and flopped on the ground.

Kaoru paused in her assault on Jaxx to look at the two in shock... before she began laughing so hard tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. Jaxx couldn't suppress the chuckles rising in his throat, and soon he was rumbling with laughter.

Johnny and Sonya were less than amused.

"You idiot!" She picked herself up to her knees and slapped him across the back of the head. Johnny yelped.

"Hey, what was that for?! What the hell did I do now?!"

"The house is a mess, Johnny! And we smelled smoke from outside! I was scared out of my mind cause I thought someone broke in!" She looked across the kitchen and noticed a fire extinguisher on the counter, and a large black thing sticking out of the trashcan. "What the hell is that?"

"John-san wanted to make you a cake so you wouldn't feel so bad about the house. But, John-san's not a very good cook."

"Hush, you," Johnny chided. "You didn't help any by telling me to put the cake mix in the microwave to make it rise faster."

Sonya's lips curled up in a smile that she tried to hide. "Johnny, what is all over you?"

Johnny blushed, or would have if his cheeks weren't all white. "Uh, Kaoru and I had a little tournament with, uh, flour."

Sonya turned to see Kaoru nod vigorously. "I won!" she sang happily.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Johnny mumbled as he stood. "Just like every other `tournament' we had."

"And how many was that?" Jaxx asked. Kaoru looked at him like she just remembered he was there, and hit him on the head again.

"Be quiet! I don't trust you!" Johnny barked with laughter as Sonya quickly took the pan from her hand and sent her off to the bathroom to get cleaned up.

"Sorry about that, Jaxx. She's just, uh, a little crazy with this thing." Sonya moved around the various piles of baking ingredients that littered the floor as she put the pan somewhere out of reach.

Johnny handed Jaxx an ice pack. "Here, I saved this one, just in case." Jaxx gave him a questioning look. "I went through it this morning," he uttered with a slight smile. Then he pointed at the bruises near his hairline.

"Gosh, if she wasn't Japanese, I'd swear she was Sonya's kid."

"I'll never have kids," Sonya growled, and swung her hands around the room as emphasize for why. Sonya tossed a wet towel at Johnny who began wiping his face clean. "Honestly, Cage, what the hell happened here? It looks like you invited Liu and Rayden over for a slug fest!"

"Well," Johnny sighed from behind the damp cloth...

Three hours and a few cups of coffee later...

"So, Jaxx is my partner, has been for quite a few years, and is dedicated, just like Johnny and I, to keeping you safe. If anything happens to me or Johnny, you can trust him. And I want you to trust him. It's important to everyone that we keep you safe." Sonya finished talking and smiled at the little girl.

Kaoru stared at Jaxx for a few moments before ducking her head.

"So, pretty much what you're telling me is that there's a possible snip at the station, Balford had a part in my house redecorating, and now he's disappeared with no trail, and you now have absolutely no leads," Johnny summed up after he listened to the long, detailed occurrences of the day.

Jaxx nodded solemnly.

Sonya stared down at her coffee, her mind drifting from thing to thing as she listened to Johnny's attempt at explaining the disaster in the house, Jaxx's information on the murder at the jail, the news on Balford's disappearance, as well as the possible connection to the arsenic attack on his home. But for some reason, Sonya thought things were out of place... something wasn't right... And it caught her by surprise when she remembered.

"Where's Nise?"

The two men, who were now discussing Kaoru's odd obsession with the frying pan, looked up confused.

"What was that?" Jaxx asked.

"Nise. What happened to Nise?" Sonya's eyes slanted the tiniest bit as she looked at Johnny. "Since the fire, you haven't mentioned her once."

Johnny seemed to become tense under her hard gaze, but if he was nervous it didn't show. "She went away for awhile, to visit her mother in Australia. She became ill over the weekend, and it could be critical. Nise was nearly devastated, so I immediately got her to the airport and on the next flight out. I don't know when she'll be coming back, but I, uh, called her while you were out, to let her know what happened to the house. So, she's all right."

Sonya frowned.

"Looks like she got out of there just in time, huh?" Jaxx asked and slapped Johnny's shoulder. "You guys are lucky."

"Yep." Johnny didn't seem too thrilled, though. No one said anything for a moment. "So... now what?"

Jaxx's cell rang. He pulled it from his waist, flipped it upon, and put it to his ear.

"Briggs. Hello. Yes, what it is? WHAT?" His body went tense, and he sat up swiftly. "When? And the others?" He sighed heavily and closed his eyes. "Any witnesses or suspects? Yes. Yes, I'm coming over right now." When Jaxx hung up, he was already pulling back his chair and reaching for his keys.

"What happened?" Sonya inquired.

"Ambush. The Devil's Destiny strikes again. Three cops are dead at the docks."

"What?" Sonya asked in shock, rising to her feet.

"Happened at a fishing factory. Someone had a lead, and walked into a trap." He moved through the hallway to the front door, Sonya in tow.

"I'll come with you."

"No," Jaxx answered shortly. "I'm going to look for any evidence the attacks may have left, so why don't you check with the station. See if you can find what lead they followed. I'll swing by after." With that, he walked out the door, it clicking as it swung shut.

"Do you mind staying with Kaoru again?" Sonya asked lightly.

Johnny shook his head. "No. Go solve this case. The sooner we can all get back to a normal life, eh?"

She nodded tightly and went for the keys to her bike.

The place reeked of fish guts and blood. The dock was wet with the spray of sea salt, mingling with the cool breeze that swept inward from the rolling wave to make him shiver slightly under the hot sun. On the deck, crates of fish lay stacked against each other, covered with fishnets and cutting tools. Some wooden stands were set up to cut the fish outside, and every ten feet there was a small conveyer belt jutting out from the side of the factory.

The factory itself was about thirty feet high, and perhaps the length of a football field. It's windows were dark, insisting nobody was home, except for the few police officers who walked around with dusters, bags with evidence, and cameras. Jaxx noticed Officer Dilly standing at the far doorway. Swiftly, he moved over to him, gave him an afternoon greeting, and began grilling him for details.

"What have you found?"

"Well," Dilly started, "We found the object that was used to work over one of the officers. It was a crowbar." Dilly winced slightly. "There was quite a bit of blood on it, and we're having it analyzed to see if any of the attacker's blood got on it as well."

"What else?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?" Jaxx asked in annoyance.

"No, sir. We searched the entire place, from floor to ceiling. No footprints, no finger prints, no sign of break in or break out, nothing. Who ever set this up, set it up pretty damn well, cause these guys practically vanished."

Jaxx groaned. "Terrific," he muttered. "This is just fucking fantastic. No leads, no clues, no suspects, no witnesses. Damn."

At that moment, three pairs of men began walking out of the building. Carried between them were three body bags.

Jaxx's heart sank at Dilly's quiet moan of remorse. `More innocent civilians. God, how many have to die before we stop them?'

"They were good cops," Dilly said quietly. "Always on time, always ready for duty, always got their respected cases done safely and neatly. They shouldn't have died like this."

"They died doing what they loved. Their job." Jaxx's hand fell on his shoulder in a gesture of understanding before he entered the factory.

Inside was just as plain and barren as the outside. Various machines were set up all around the large, open area, used for slicing fish, removing the skin, and discarding the bones. In the far corner, near the back row of windows facing the ocean, there were two women. One was taking photographs while the other was taking blood samples from the walls and floor. Jaxx winced. Even from here, he could smell the blood. As he moved closer, it became clear that the cops weren't just shot down dead, but tortured before hand. Worked over real good. Splatters of blood covered the walls in a gruesome act of modern art. Some splotches reached up at least ten feet high. Jaxx could only figure that would happen from a fast moving object that would slice into the skin, such as a chain saw. Further to the left, in sloppy hand writing, were the Japanese characters that meant devil, the trademark of the Devil's Destiny.

"... four men, at least."

Jaxx caught a snip of the photographer's last sentence.

"Sadists. All of them. It disgusts me."

"Yes, that's most certainly what these men are." Jaxx held up his badge as the women stared at him questioningly. "I would like to take a look around. Don't let me distract you from your work."

"Of course, Major. But, please, don't touch anything."

Jaxx grinned slightly and began moving around the corner, trying to avoid looking too closely at the amount of blood shed about. He explored every inch of the floor, and the boxes around, as well as the machinery about ten feet away, but the room was clean. Nearly spotless, if not for the blood.

"Damn," he muttered softly. He stood straight, stretched a bit, and found himself lost. Not a clue in the room. And Spekly was in questioning, so he couldn't see him for information yet. Jaxx turned toward the door. A ray of sunlight beat down through the high windows, blinding him for a moment.

"Ah." He stepped forward, into the shade, and blinked a few times, waiting for the spots to disappear. His foot stuck on something. Gum. "Shit." Bending over, he examined the guck on his upturned shoe... and found it to be part of a larger piece that was partially shoved under a slicing rack. Earlier, he thought it to be nothing but a stain on the floor, but as he bent closer, he found it to be something much more. With a slight tug, he pulled the rubbery material free, and held it up to the light.

In the dim lit factory, a wide smile creased the Major's firm facial features.

Sonya groaned and leaned forward to rest her head on her hands. Not a goddamn thing could she find, no hints to the lead, no information from the other officers. Even Spekly was out of ideas. A call from his boss, A.D. Skimp, put him on an errand that he said would probably take a while. So now she had no other source to go on for information. And she still had a feeling something was missing.

She sat back in the chair in the quiet cafeteria, staring up at the ceiling with unseeing eyes. What was the point? What was this group trying to accomplish? Sonya's mind wandered. `They needed Kaoru to get into the vault, but why? Yes, there's a lot of money... but wouldn't their quarterly shipments provide more than enough money for them?

`Balford was their connection for shipments arriving here. So their starting a new drug ring in the US. Fine. And they were connected to the Black Dragon. Why? Either for drugs, weapons, or both. How? Balford again.' Sonya's brow creased. `But how could a dirty actor connect to ruthless groups, and in another country, no less, when Balford lived here all his life?'

Sonya shook her head. `Ok, assuming that were true, it doesn't explain why these guys want to get into the vault.' Something twitched in her mind. `What.' There was something about the vault she was forgetting. Sitting up in her chair, she called for a laptop, which one of the officers brought quickly. Connecting to the wall jack, Sonya quickly logged herself online, and looked up "Sanosuke, Mamoru." What lit up on the screen was background information, and Sonya clicked on the link for his connections to American industries. A web page came up, showing a picture of a large building in sunny San Francisco. The name of the building was Advance Studies and Technology for Drug and Chemical Analysis in San Francisco. Quickly, Sonya began to scan the article below.

"Announcing the project that will soon be affecting drug lords everywhere: A new device that can pump a recently discovered chemical, korelisiac, into the blood stream, and destroy addiction. It has a chemical compound that, when combined with a certain drug, can eliminate the addiction in the body. It also has a substance that can make the body immune to the effects of any drug. This is to be used only for illegal drugs, such as heroine and cocaine. It will be performed on all drug addicts arrested and imprisoned. This saves money on counciling, and if everyone can become immune, drugs will no longer have such a drastic toll on the world.

"A new security system is being put in for just this reason. Only people with fingerprint, retina, and breathalizer tests that are entered into the computer database can be allowed access into the plant. Guards will be no longer needed. High tech lasers, flamethrowers, and lockdown procedures will be used in the case of emergencies. In order for this new system to go into effect, the old system must be shut down and completely erased at the same time. Plans are being made for the entire computer system in the building to be completely shut down for a total of three minutes as the new data is logged into the computers. Though there are no confirming sources, the date of this project to be put underway has been unofficially set for July fourth."

Sonya leaned back and smiled absently. `They're going to take the money for themselves, and destroy this new device, so they can stay in business. That's the motive.' At that moment, Jaxx came bursting through the door.

"Sandspike."

Sonya looked up, confused. "What?"

"At the factory, a group of guys were dealing sandspike." An evidence bag dangled from his hand.

"A group of guys connected to the big bad gang."

Jaxx nodded. "Right. Only something's different. This isn't the original stuff that was brought over from Hong Kong. It's laced with alphordac, a chemical that flood the part of the brain that controls free thought."

Sonya's eyebrows went up. "Someone's messing with the drug, to turn people into mindless zombies?"

"It looks like it. I think the gang is trying to make slave foot soldiers."

"And I think we have a target where this gang's gonna strike next." Sonya pointed to the screen of her laptop, and Jaxx came to look over her shoulder.

"What?"

"Here. This is where the vault is. And look at what they're making."

Jaxx took a few minutes to read the article. "We need a date and time."

"Exactly."

"Dilly!"

A moment later, the young officer walked in. "Yes?"

"Come here for a minute, and tell me what you know about this." Jaxx gestured him over, and after reading the article, Dilly confirmed that such was to happen on July fourth, at 6:14pm. Otherwise referable as approximately 23 hours from now.

"I think we're gonna need some of your best undercover officers informed and prepared ASAP," Sonya said with a vicious grin. "And if we're lucky, we gonna catch us some bad guys."

Three hours passed of prep, and a distinct map was laid out of snipers and hidden officers. When all was said and done, the two special forces agents agreed that Sonya would be best staying with Kaoru for the entire day, to ensure her safety. With greetings of a goodnight's rest, the two separated to their respected destinations.

"We have no more time. It happens tomorrow night. The security system is going to be knocked out for a max of three, giving us the chance for complete and unknown access to the vault. But we need the kid!"

"I don't see why the hell we can't just go in there and blow off that bitch and her fake boy toy, then take the kid and go."

A knife embedded itself into the table next to his hand.

"Because I want her alive. I want her to follow along, every step of the way, and then let her watch her friends die, before I torture her to death."

Silence thickened in the air, making the beatings of their hearts that much louder.

"So what do we do?"

A beat. "I want all three of them brought here. You take care of the Major, Danny gets the bitch."

"And Cage?"

"We'll use his girlfriend."

Sonya's motorcycle slowed and came to a stop a few feet into the garage. She knocked down the kickstand and pressed for the garage door to close. Quietly, she walked into the house, her gun in hand for any unexpected visitors. The lights in the kitchen were on, and she walked slowly to the end of the hall. The place smelled of Chinese, and she noticed the dirty dishes in the sink. She shook her head and sighed mentally before proceeding up to the living room. There, she found the TV on, but on mute, and sitting on the couch she saw Johnny facing away from her. Holstering her gun, she moved around to say hi, then stepped back in shock at her findings.

Nestled in his arms and sleeping peacefully with her head on his shoulder was Kaoru. Her small body rose with Johnny's even breathing, and Sonya smiled when she realized the actor was also asleep. He looked innocent beyond words, and Sonya could feel the fatherly bonding between adult and child. Her smile faded slightly as she continued to stare, but put those thoughts aside for later as she reached for the remote.

"Ouch," she hissed softly as her shin bumped the table. `Oh, no!' Kaoru shifted and her head moved to look at Sonya through sleep-blurred eyes.

"Sonya-san?" Sonya smiled.

"Hi, honey. I didn't mean to wake you," she whispered. Kaoru rubbed her eyes.

"It's ok. John-san and I were watching Jeopardy while we had dinner." She yawned.

"And I can see it wore you two out." Sonya carefully put her hands under Kaoru's arms and gently lifted her from the slumbering fighter. "Shh," she said as she put her finger on her lips. "We don't want to wake him." Kaoru hid a giggle as Sonya quietly tiptoed them to the guestroom where Kaoru was staying. Sonya put her down and softly closed the door.

"Ok, Kaoru, love. Brush your teeth, get changed, and off to bed with you." The little one pouted for a moment, but when she yawned she nodded her head and marched off. Sonya smiled again as she went back into the living room. Johnny hadn't moved, and Sonya figured it best to leave him there. She stretched and began to make her way to her room for her nightshirt.

"We were comfortable, you know." Sonya stopped and turned to see Johnny smiling, though his eyes were still closed and he hadn't moved.

"I'm sure, but your backs would have been screaming at you in the morning." The actor groaned as he shifted to pull his feet off the table and onto the floor. He looked at her, his smile still prominent, and ran his hands through his hair.

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

Sonya smiled widely and nodded. "If things go well, we'll have some of the members locked away tomorrow. Maybe we'll even have the honor of meeting this mysterious Kyoufu figure."

Johnny smiled also and rose to his feet. Suddenly, a streak of pink flew across the room and into Johnny's stomach.

"John-san!" Johnny faked being knocked back onto the couch with a loud uumph! Kaoru giggled and gripped his neck in a fierce hug. Johnny proceeded to act like she was strangling him, and made intermittent choking sounds that made Kaoru squeal with delight. Sonya chuckled as she watched the intimate display of affection before coming to Johnny's rescue at his pathetic plea for help.

"All right, little ninja, let the man up for air," she scolded playfully. Kaoru giggled and released him to unexpectedly pounce Sonya. "Ack!"

"I brushed my teeth like you asked, and I came to say `night." Kaoru let go of Sonya and stood to her feet proudly, smiling all the while. "So, `night!" Then she playfully punched Johnny in the stomach and ran off to her room, still giggling.

"Oh, no you don't!" Sonya laughed whilst Johnny chased after the little Japanese girl, and Sonya followed slowly. In her room, Kaoru was trying to hide under the sheets as Johnny tickled her. She squealed and writhed on the bed, unable to get away from his tickling fingers. "Say it! Say it!"

"Uncle!" she yelled from under her stuffed dog. Johnny let up and pulled back the sheets to reveal a red-faced girl with hair all over the place. She was panting slightly, but her grin was so wide it illuminated her whole face. Johnny leaned down to peck her cheek, which more than surprised Sonya. "Sleep well, Kaoru."

"Oyasumi, John-san." He tucked the covers around her and slowly walked back to Sonya.

"You want the night light on?" she asked. The little girl shook her head in the negative. "Ok, see you in the morning."

"Oyasumi, Sonya-san." Sonya bade her goodnight, turned off the light, and closed the door halfway. When she entered the living room, Sonya turned to see Johnny click off the TV and look at her. Sonya walked toward the kitchen to do the dishes that Johnny left. Half way, though, she changed her mind and decided to leave them for the morning. She turned out the light, and headed for her room.

"Getting ready for bed?" Sonya nodded then smiled at him.

"I didn't know you and Kaoru would get along so well. You're really good with kids." She chuckled to herself. "Better than I thought." Much to her amusement, Johnny actually blushed and turned his head away.

"Yeah, well, she's a good kid." Sonya couldn't believe it. He was actually being modest! `I wonder how long this'll last for.'

"Come to think of it, Cage, you might just make a decent father one day," she joked. Johnny swiftly looked at her and grinned.

"Only if I have a great wife." Sonya swallowed. His eyes were too serious for her, and she was beginning to feel unsettled. Now, to Johnny's surprise, she was turning away in embarrassment.

"Well, be patient. She'll come along." Sonya turned and walked to her door. Without looking back, she called over her shoulder. "Goodnight." Sonya walked into her room and turned to shut the door when her body ran into another and she found herself immersed in a passionate embrace. Sonya's mind all but shut down as Johnny wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer. When they parted, he breathed softly against her lips.

"I'm not very patient, Sonya, especially when what I want is right in front of me." Sonya stared at him, at first unable to speak. "Look, whatever went wrong last time, whatever you think I did that messed everything up, I'm sorry. I never wanted to hurt you."

"You didn't do anything, Johnny, but care for me too much."

"Don't be scared of me, Sonya." She said nothing, but turned her head away. His fingers caressed her chin so she could face him. "Don't be afraid to trust me." Sonya's eyes seemed cold at first, and she closed them to block out his pleading expression. Slowly, her hands drifted to his neck and she kissed him on the forehead.

"I do trust you," she whispered. Her face moved closer to his, and they kissed again, enjoying nothing more than the feeling of being together at last. Johnny's tongue pressed down on hers and his head spun as she kissed him back with fervor. She pressed herself against him and he groaned into her seductive mouth. Slowly, he slipped one arm from her waist to push the door closed, but only part way so they could listen for Kaoru if she needed something. Sonya didn't notice because she was concentrating too hard on trying to crawl into his skin. Johnny began to get real comfortable with her and stroked her back lightly when she suddenly pulled away and punched him in the stomach.

"Shit," Johnny coughed as he tried to get his breath back. "If you don't want a back rub, next time just say something!"

"No, it's not that, Johnny. It's-you're seeing someone else! Can you really forget about her so quickly?!" Johnny put a finger to his lips and shushed her severely.

"Kaoru's sleeping just down the hall, Sonya!" he hissed. "Keep your voice down."

"Don't change the subject."

Johnny threw his arms in the air. "I'm not!"

"Then answer the question!" Johnny remained silent. "Damn it, Cage, you say you want me to trust in you, but how can I if you won't even answer a simple question? You know, I thought you had changed since the tournament. I thought you actually began to care for others more than yourself. But now..."

"What?" Johnny challenged her.

"I don't think you ever cared. I don't think you ever gave a damn about anyone else! You're just like every other testosterone driven male: all you want is sex, right?"

He seemed to stagger. Sonya drove into him mercilessly. "That's why you can just forget about your girlfriend so quickly as you try and woo me with pretty words that you probably learned for some gay ass script!"

"First you tell me that you left because I cared for you too much, now you're running because I don't care enough! However did I manage to be so fucking controversial?!" he seethed as he stepped up to her, moving so close as to invade her personal space. She didn't like it, he could tell, but she had too much pride shimmering in her woodland eyes to back away.

"Maybe the same way you managed to be so fucking dense as to believe that you could slip right past me like water. I'm not a dumb blonde, Johnny, and I don't like being played like one." His eyes widened, and she moved past him. He seized her wrist and pulled her back, struggling with her as she tried to free herself from his grasp.

"You don't believe that," he whispered.

"You have no right to tell me what I do and do not believe in," she spat back.

"And you think that gives you the right to lie to my face? I haven't betrayed you, I never tried to hurt you, not once have I lied to you, and yet you insist on believing that I'm here just to wine dine sixty-nine you before hitting the road?" He chuckled without humor. "You keep harping about trust, yet you grant me the chance for none." She punched at him with her left, but her emotions were making her moves too slow, and Johnny easily caught her hand. Gently, he caressed the skin on her palm with his thumb as he brought her knuckles to his lips. He kissed each one in turn before he continued. "Sonya, if there's one thing I can promise you, it'll be that you can trust me. You can run to me whenever you need help, and I'll be there for you. I will protect you when you're scared, and comfort you when you are broken. When you feel lonely, I will love you, and when you feel chained, I will set you free." Sonya bowed her head and stared at the floor.

"Johnny-"

"But what I want to know, what I need to believe, is will you do the same for me?" He moved his head and put his forehead to hers. "Can I trust you to be my savior when I need one?"

"What about Nise?" Sonya whispered weakly. Johnny stood silently for a moment. Then his shoulders dropped as he sighed heavily.

"Nise left me." Sonya pulled away swiftly.

"What?"

"She walked out the night of the fire. She thought I was cheating on her." He paused as he smiled shyly. "With you."

Sonya stared at him, and her eyes flickered with anger. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Would you have let me live it down?" he scoffed. "You're supposed to hate me beyond belief, and I figured telling you would just provide ammunition in your on going quest to make me feel like shit."

That stung. She wanted to hit him. She wanted to see him bleed on the floor. And then she wanted to kiss him. "Ugh!" She pounded his chest and glared. "Damn you, Cage!"

It wasn't until he said it that he winced inwardly. Yeah, Cage, that's one way to make everything better. He stared at her, waiting for her to knock him down and beat him to a pulp. He watched her fists clench and her teeth grind. Then her eyes grew dull, and the fire suddenly disappeared. Her hands sunk to her sides and her head fell to her chest.

"Sonya?"

"My God. Oh, how could I have been such a bitch?" Johnny bent his knees to look into her eyes. They were misting over.

"No, Sonya, it-I didn't help at all. Hell, I know I made things worse. I didn't mean what I said. I wasn't thinking." Sonya's hand stopped him. Her head lifted, and she looked carefully into his eyes. Her next words shocked him into a dumb state.

"I'm sorry." Johnny was so stunned he nearly fell over backwards. Out of all the times they shared together, be it good, bad, fantastic, or downright frustrating, not once did Sonya apologize to him. After his moment of brain malfunction, Johnny got his body to work properly again. She apologized. She was being sincere. And Johnny couldn't have been happier.

"Whoo!" Johnny suddenly picked her up and whirled her around like a child. Sonya gasped then laughed. When he put her down, he swept her into him, and he kissed her like it was the last time he would ever see her again. Sonya responded fully and passionately, and Johnny wanted to weep with joy. Swiftly, without breaking the kiss, he lifted her and put her down on the bed, pressing her down into the sheets with his weight as they struggled with their clothes. In moments, the obstructions of cloth were tossed over the dresser, the mirror, and the rest fell on the floor in unconcerned heaps.

A gentle rain pelted against the window as Johnny stared into the darkness of the bedroom. His breathing was even, but his thoughts were chaotic. Sonya shifted in her sleep, and snuggled tighter into his side. His arms pulled her against him, and he heard her sigh softly. Gently, he placed his hand upon her silky blonde hair. With each stroke through her golden locks his heart grew heavier. Never before had a woman put him under such a painful pleasure when it came to love. Not even his ex-wife had affected him so drastically. His heart beat only for her, and it terrified him. Johnny understood the kind of work Sonya was apart of, and how every time she went on a mission, there was always the underlying danger of her not returning. She cheated death so many times he wondered with a growing dread how much longer he would have her at his side. His breath caught and his eyes fell shut. `At his side.' Once again, she lay beside him, but for how long would she remain there?

"Please God, I don't want to lose her again," he whispered to himself. He kissed her forehead and let himself slide a bit more under the covers before drifting into an uneasy sleep.