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The Long Winter
By Demeter


"Do you trust me?" he read from the sheet, holding on to her hand. He felt silly and exhilarated at the same times. He'd believed this to be a myth until now, despite the mounting evidence. A myth, it was not. She looked at him intently, her gaze calm and serene.

Finally, she said the magic words. "With my life."

He stood at the railing, following her with his eyes as she slowly walked across the wide open space. Every now and then a smile chased the absent-minded expression from her face as she passed one of her fellow prisoners. This was the best kind of prison, he mused, as they didn't even know they couldn't get out. They didn't even want to.

He had always found her attractive, but it wasn't until he'd waited for her in the black van those three times when she returned all hyped up once, giggling like a schoolgirl the next time and just yesterday, falling into his arms, crying, that he'd really begun to see the potential. Absolute trust.

"They depend on you completely. There's a temptation."

He'd noticed that Boyd had joined him at the railing but didn't see the need to acknowledge his presence until the other man spoke.

"Speaking from experience?" he ventured, feeling caught and not liking it at all.

Boyed leaned on the railing comfortably, following his gaze. "There was a handler once who crossed that line."

"I imagine the situation has been taken care of."

"Oh yes. It has been."

He turned to face the head of security, for a moment taken aback by the almost feral smile on Boyd's face.

"Are you threatening me?"

"Me? No, not at all. Just making conversation."

"Don't worry, I'm aware of the rules in this game. I guess you're just doing your job – making sure that I'll do mine."

"Right. I'm also warning you."

Leaving it at that, Boyd walked away, leaving a slightly frustrated brand new handler.

He stayed in his observation spot for a while longer. Downstairs, she stopped to look up at him, a smile lighting up her face. She was pretty, whatever person this Topher guy put into her brain. The perfect fiancee to present to the parents, the best friend you had to buy when you couldn't have one otherwise or the cold-hearted investigator with the troubled past. He didn't really care about what was going on in her brain.

Smiling back at her, John Ashe thought that one of these days, he'd know the rules of the game well enough to circumvent them.

The End

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