Oh, baby you're the only thing in this whole world,
that's pure and good and right.
Bat Out of Hell, Meatloaf

I was lost till you found
But I never knew how far down
I was falling before I reached the bottom
For Crying out Loud, Meatloaf

You lie on something warm and soft. It gently roils and rocks beneath you in a soothing rhythm. You're naked, soft slender hands exploring your body, dozens of them. A chorus of female voices murmurs in the background, mindless endearments and praises. All you see is a mist, the air is warm and humid and seems to cling to you sensously.

A figure emerges from the mists. Female and gloriously naked… Willow. Small, she still seems to stand like a goddess over you her eyes roaming over you with open desire, making your already erect member strain all the more. She sinks to her knee, straddling your legs and leans forward. Her face grows softer, submissive as she looks upon it, growing closer. You feel her breath, at first cool then warm play over your member then she plants the softest of kisses on the tip. Teasingly, slowly she sucks you into her mouth, mewling softly in the back of her throat.

Her lips and tougue explore, skillfully building you to the brink of release then she lifts her head and gazes up at you, eyes now a cold ice blue. Her face has changed, colder, another woman altogether… familar… fear! She smiles, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth which she sinks into your thobbing flesh. Blood sprays in a crimson arch. The pain… you…

Your eyes are open. Someone is screaming. It's you, the searing pain still echoing in your mind. Willow is here, lying aginst you. You're safe…

Safe. Where the hell are we? Clay looks around. Where's metal boy? Willow? He gazes down at Willow, unable to stop the shudder that passes through him. She would never hurt anyone, never hurt me. He tries a smile, "Are you alright?"

"Clay, it's alright," Willow turned back you trying to comfort. "You're safe. Everything's alright. Shhh," she murmurs, stroking your forehead and face gently, trying to calm you down. As always her touch is soothing. Your body is to wrung out to be aroussed by it. Over her shoulder you see a man run from a drug store… screaming…

What now? He moved Willow to the seat beside him and climbed over the seat. What a goddamn fucking horrible day this has turned out to be.

Hauling yourself into the front seat leaves you shaking with exhaustion and on the brink of passeing out again. The guy keeps running at top speed. The engine is off and the ignition looks tampered with… that's right, the big guy hotwired it.

Well, he thought ruefully, looking at the smashed out window, locking the doors is not going to help. He looks down at the ignition. Okay, give it a try.

"Keep down." He directed the comment at Willow.

"Jason, what is it? What's wrong? Where are you going?" Willow says from the backseat, sounding more annoyed and tired than worried. Fumbling with the car is getting you nowhere.

"Hey.. what happened to ya window?" a soft somewhat high pitched voice asks all of a sudden through the driver's side window. Starting and glancing you find yourself looking into the dirt smudged face of a young girl.

"Um. Vandlism," he smiles at her, trying to be believable, "And I just finished paying off the car too. I don't even have change for the phone." Besides, who would I call? he thought with an inward chuckle.

He looks around, then slowly gets out of the vehicle, still smiling at the young girl. "Is your home nearby? Are your parents home. I would like to call a tow truck and maybe the police. Maybe they can help me. My girlfriend isn't feeling well. I was on my way to the hospital." Yeah, and you don't look like shit, either.

The girl looks back at Willow as she speaks. "It got broken earlier. I'm going to have it fixed tomorrow." I hope. Willow pulls the blanket closer around her, feeling chilled. You climb out of the car and she watches you. The girl is skinny, waifish and cute. Her clothing is a patchwork, a pink part dress, long white hose tucked in boots and a jacket a good two sizes too big. All of it patched and worn. "Um… my… parents are, well out and stuff… hey, why ain't you got no shirt on?"

"I'm fine, dear. You'd better get on home. It's really late, and I don't feel comfortable knowing you're out on the streets alone at this time of night." Willow's voice was full of concern. "Hon, I think I may have some change at the bottom of my purse. We'll be fine." Stop it. Don't you realize that just by talking to this girl we may be putting her in danger? Can you imagine what may happen to her if we go to her house? What's wrong with you? Willow's mental voice touches you, weak and strained.

The girl's face quirks abit and she lookes over at Willow. "You say somethin'?"

Clay sighs, "She's right, you better be going." He looks over at 'their rescuer'. Who are you and what do you want? Damn, I hate letting someone else have control over my safety. I like it even less when Willow is involved. But neither of us is in any shape to do anything else. I hope this isn't a bad choice.

Willow looks at her in surprise. "No," she stammered. "I didn't." Willow looked at her more closely. "What's your name?"

"Gina…" she cocks her head at you. "You sure you ain't sick?"

Willow looked over at Jason. "Here comes Bill with the things I asked him to buy." She then looked back at the little girl. "Are you going to be okay? You'll get home alright?"

The girl nods still staring at Willow. "Hey, Bill, " he shouts at the cyborg, "lets get going okay. She's not feeling at all well."

Gina looks at Jason. "You said she was feelin' better. Why did you kill Ice?"

"Ice?" Clay cocked his head, frowning. "Who's Ice?"

"I am feeling better. And what are you talking about? Who's Ice?"

Gina giggled softly as the pair spoke almost in unison. "You pushed him outa Shanisha's momma's window… sokay… he was a big asshole anyway." The profanity was somewhat jolting coming from such a young girl particularly the casual way it was spoken.

Clay felt the world tip and he leaned on the car for balance. His head pounded. The pimp… of course. "He attacked me I reacted on instinct. How is Shanisha and her mother?" Come on 'Bill', I don't like this. Don't like being in the open like this. Who the hell is the woman?

The little girl's eyes go wide. "Shit…you must be a real bad ass… " She looks thoughtful. "Some cops came and talked to Shanisa's momma… made me go home…now she won't answer the door no more."

"What are you doing out on the streets at this time of night, Gina? Can you not go home?" Willow felt her heart sink. "Or do you live on the street?" Willow asked, leaning a little closer to the window.

Gina looked over at her,eyes casting downward. "I got a house and stuff… just.. just has some bad dreams and wus out walkin'"

"Bad dreams, eh. I have them too. All the time. So does he," Willow said, indicating Jason. "A screaming voice, full of anger and hate?"

Her eyes widen,yeah that wus it… how did ya know?" She smiles slightly. "You must be smart." She looks curious at the apparent guilt but doesn't press.

"I want you to tell me the truth, Gina, and I'll be able to tell if you're lying to me. Are your parents alive?"

"Yeah… sure…" she says,perhaps a little to quickly. Again she can't seem to meet your gaze. A pained look crosses her face.

"Do you have anyone other than Shanisha's mother to look after you? Do you have a safe place to go?"

"I gots places ta go…" she mumbles looking down.

Cops. Won't answer the door? Clay closed his eyes, bringing the image of Shanisa to the fore-mind. I hope she is okay. Such a gentle soul. Like my Willow. And then the image of Willow slamming the baseball bat into 'Bill's' side with all her strength caused him start laughing. Softly, holding his sides. Gentle Willow, he thought at her, sending the image as well. The pain helped sober him up.

He is actually still talking to the woman. It seems to have grown very animate.

God dam asshole! We don't have time for this pick up woman shit. Well, Jason has to admit… even from here she is HOT… built stacked… all that and a bag of chips… built like a brick shi- well you get the idea.

He turned his attention back to Gina. "You better go home, Gina." He reaches out and soothed back her hair. "It's late and you shouldn't be out."

"I said safe, Gina," Willow said softly and gently, unaccusing. "Listen, Gina. Do you want to come with us? I promise, we won't hurt you, and we won't let anyone else hurt you either. Just for tonight, so you have some place warm and clean to sleep, and something to eat. Tomorrow, you can go wherever you want."

Gina blinks, struck silent by the offer. "You shittin' me?" Her eyes narrow a little. "You ain't a freak are ya? Sittin' in a car nekkid and stuff…"

Clay sighs. I knew she was thinking of bring her along. Clay crawls backin the car, settleing in beside Willow. He draws her closer, wrapping the blanket around both of them. His fingers trail up her side and cuppeda breast, his thumb making slow circles around her nipple. Letting the motion smooth him. She stiffened,eyes half closing for a moment. Her body was so responsive, her mind so in tune with it. She was a marvel.

"Willow," he whispered, his mouth right next to her ear, "we don't have a safe, warm, clean place to sleep. Let alone anything to eat."

In responce she gave him The Look. The one that brooked no arugment or bullshit. It was her car, her money and most importnatly her life. She wanted to remind him about another stray she had recently picked up…

Willow smiles weakly. "No, I'm not shitting you. I was sick earlier, right after I got out of the shower. My friend was so concerned that he didn't take the time to get either of us fully dressed before rushing me off for help. My parents didn't give a damn about me as a child and wouldn't have cared if I were alive or dead, so I know what it's like to be alone and not have anyone to talk to about the nightmares, and other things." She gave Gina a knowing and accepting look.

"So, what do you say, Gina? Will you come with us? No funny business, I promise. Remember what happened to Ice? He'll do the same thing to anyone who tries to hurt either of us, like Ice tried to do to him and probably did to Shanisha's mom in the past."

Clay smiles, touched that she would say this. He gives her breast a light squeeze and kisses her neck, playing his tongue lightly over her earlobe.

Willow turned to him, a slighty (only slightly) less potent look on her face and mouthed, "Stop it."

Gina looked like she was thinking it over, quickly and was about to speak when the cyborg guy stepped up. Regrettably no burgers, but with several packages in hand. He looked from the kids in the car to the little girl, a puzzled look on his face.

"Gina is coming with us," Clay grinned rougishly at Willow, "Climb into the front seat Gina. Don't worry about Bill."

The girl looked up at the large man, her eyes getting wide again. "Hi." She waved, climbing into the front seat.

He grinned at 'Bill', "Did you happen to pick up some asprin? Food?"

"You going to the burger joint next? Add a burger, fries and a drink on for Gina." Willow said, leaning back in the seat. She looks at the drug store then at the cyborg. "Have any problems in the pharmacy?"

The cyborg shook his head, glancing up and down the street. "No. Need to get to outta here, there was a touch of trouble in there." He was not happy about the girl. Not happy at all, but seemed to have decide that it wasn't worth the energy.

Gina looked up at him. "Why were ya talkin' to Miss Marks?"

Bill reached into the bag and pitched the bottle of aspirin at Clay. Then he handed everyone a candy bar that he had picked up, along with the some t-shirts he had picked up in the drug store. "Here." He gets into the car, turns and looks at Gina, "Miss Marks? We just met. What ya know about her?" He starts the car up and pulls out.

Willow smiled fondly at the little girl. "You're just full of questions, aren't you." Her features turned melancholy.

Gina began, "Oh, she's ju-" She was cut off by Clay.

"Not now Gina," Clay frowns. "Then maybe we should get going. We can go through a drive through somewhere."

"Hey, I wuz talkin'" Gina glares back at Clay.

He pulls Willow back into his lap, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close. He kept his eyes on 'Bill'. We're compleltly in his power now. Maybe I should have Gina come into the back. She won't be so easy to reach.

"I have to have something to eat and soon, or it's not going to be a pretty sight." Willow's grip tightened on Clay's hand as she fought against the dizziness she was feeling. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back.

He placed his mouth next to Willow's ear, "Why are we bringing her? We are in danger. Now so is she."

Willow turned her head weakly. "She's in danger simply because she talked to us," she whispered. "She heard me when I tried to mindspeak you. Gina's a sensitive. If those people are after us because of our powers, can you imagine what they'd to do her if they got a hold of her? Besides, she has no one and nowhere to go. Remind you of someone," Willow asked with a pointed look. "I couldn't just leave her out on the streets."

"Let's all get something to eat, find some place relatively safe then we can start sorting things out. Here, eat some of this," Clay frowned. Willow didn't look good. He was hungry but she looked weak.

"There's a Monster Burger a little up the street.. they throw out a lotta stuff… " Gina voluterred,watching as Clay popped the cap off the asprin bottle and slammed back 6.

"What were those guys after at your place? And don't bullshit me. I ain't in the mood," Bill says dryly.

"Me, I think," Willow answered. "And possibly Clay. You heard what that man said." She gave a snort of derision. "He probably works for or with my parents. They'd do that sort of thing." She frowned as another memory surfaced. "They've done it before."

She reached a hand out from under the blanket and grabbed one of of the chocolate bars. Tearing off the endof the wrapper, she quickly devoured it, her stomach clenching at the arrival of the much needed food. She knew, however, this was just a stop-gap measure and she'd have to eat something more substantial, and soon.

Willow then took one of the t-shirts, checked the sizes, and put the smaller of the two on, handing the other to Clay. "We're going to have to get some pants or a skirt, or something like that for me."

Gina looks from "Bill" to you and back again. "What's a sensitive? You can't go back to your place can ya? Who's after you? Is it the cops? What did you do? Why are his legs smoking? I knows where ya can get a dress or somethin'."

Willow looked uncomfortable, as she always did when talking about her powers in the real sense. "Something to wear other than this shirt would be nice, thank you, Gina."

Gina tugged at the cyborg's shirt, "O'er there go down there… it's a Salvashun Army drop box… the back's loose." She pointed to a parking lot down a side street lined with tenetments. The drop box she mentioned sat on the curb, battered and rusted, the Salvation Army logo barely readable. She turned back to Willow as she started speaking again.

"Clay, would you mind getting a dress or something out of the box?" Willow asked. She felt guilty about taking the item, but she was in need of it. He nodded,getting out of the car and kneeling at the rear of the box. As the girl had said,it was partially busted open. A couple of hard tugs pulled it completely free. Old clotheds and rags toppled out carrrying the smell of mildew and dirt. Plucking a couple of serviceable looking jeans and skirts from the pile Clay got back in the car.

"Now, what is a sensative?" She paused for asecond, trying to think of the best way to explain it. "A sensitive is someone who can sometimes… 'hear' things that other people can't. Gina, have you ever been talking to someone, or listening to other people talk, and you knew what they were going to say just before they said it? Like when you asked me earlier if I had said something?"

Gina nodded, intrigued by the sound of Willow's voice and her manner.

"That's part of being what some experts call being a sensitive. Sometimes, the ability is low level, in that you hear a mutter, or think that someone may have said something, when they actually didn't." Willow hated not telling the complete truth to Gina, but considering the circumstances, she didn't think Gina would react well to it. Clay listened, intrigued as well. She was right. Her definition was perhaps somewhat broad and simplified. She was at least a 2nd stage clairvoyant. How did he know that… what the hell did it even mean?

"And no, we can't go back to my apartment. From what I remember, I don't think anyone will be able to live there any time soon." Willow shook her head. "It's not the cops after us. It's some rather nasty people who want to hurt me." She shifted her gaze to 'Bill'.

"Why? you're real nice…" She smiled.

"Because I can do things that other people can't," Willow admitted with a sigh. "Your leg is like your arm? Did it get damaged when that man came in, or after? Is thre someplace you need to goto look after the problem?"

"Bill" shook his head. "Don't sweat it… you are pretty good at asking questions so here are a few more… Who are your parents? What do they do? And why would they want to 'kidnap' you?"

"Not so much kidnap as get me back where they can control me. My parents are Ann and William Anderson, developers of nastier and deadlier chemical weapons and God knows what other drugs for the government and their own pleasures," Willow said with a lingering trace of hatred. "I'm some sort of pet project to them, and they don't like the idea I've broken through the brainwashing and am starting to remember what they've done to me all these years."

"Okay, here's some more," Clay responded, tightening his grip on Willow. Don't say another word. "Who the hell are you? What the hell were you doing sneaking around her apartment? Who do you work for?"

"And who were you talking to on the phone before you went to the pharmacy?"

She slipped out of Clay's lap and started rummaging around in the bag of art supplies she had left in the car a couple of days before. Moving was an exquisite pain but she fought it down. With as nod of satisfaction, she pulled out a small sketch pad and a pencil. Willow quickly wrote a note, tore it off the pad, and handed it to Clay. She then closed her eyes briefly.

Vision when I picked you up.
Blood all over walls in place I was familiar with.
Not loft. Parents' house?!

Bill lets out a short grunt with a slight smirk washing across his face, "I'm somebody that was sent to investigate your parents. I was following the trail back to their daughter. I entered the apartment in case someone else had already been there, but fortunately for the both of you I showed up before they did. Who do I work for? An undisclosed, interested party which shall remain nameless, I'm afraid. Back to you… besides you, what else would they have been sent there for? Records, files, computer files, anything that your parents may have left for you to have or keep for them?"

Stopping at a red light, he turned around to look both Willow and Clay straight in the face, "And to ease your minds some, if I wanted to kill you, you would have already been dead! If I hadn't, I would have let those others guys do it." And as quickly as he faced them, he turned back around and proceeded down the street. He shakes his head while muttering to himself, "I'm trying to save us, and he wants to see my resume."

"Oh God," Willow whispered and she looked at Clay, her expression one of confusion and concern. "Something happened at the house. I saw blood all over the walls. What happened there?" She turned her face to the cyborg.

"Do you know what happened? You said you followed the trail to me. Did you start at my parents' house?"

"Shit. How do you know about that? Yeah, I was there. Too late though. When I entered the house through an upstairs window, I heard gunfire from downstairs. I exited and when straight to you. I knew that you would be their next target. Tell me, how did you know?"

Gina looks up him like he is a slow child, wiping her nose on the back of her sleeve. "'Cause she's a sensitive…"

The light changed and he turned into restaurant. "Let me guess–drive through?" He grinned humorlessly.

"We're in no shape to go in," Clay answered sharply. He pulled Willow close. She and her parents hadn't been close, but still they were her parents. "Sensitive has little to do with Gina. Just a matter of putting two and two together. If he was sent to check her parents out, that is where he would have went first."

Willow winced at Clay's touch and the movement of being pulled sideways. "Here, Gina. Have a kleenex." Willow handed the little girl a tissue. "You're right. I am a sensitive." She smiled at Gina. "You're a fast learner." She looks back at the cyborg. "And yes, drive through."

"Putting two and two together wouldn't give you the answer that she saw blood all over the walls. You can 'see' different places any time you want to?"

"I can't control what I see. Or when," Willow answered.

Clay hugged her close, kissed her hair and whipsered in her ear, "Are you all right?"

Willow then turned her attention to Clay. "I can't deny what I saw, Clay. Lighten up. I'm the one who should be having kittens, not you. Now, where's that aspirin?" Willow found the bottle and downed four of them, then rested her head on Clay's shoulder and closed her eyes. "I know you like to touch and hold me," she whispered into his ear. "But would you please stop pulling me around like a rag doll? It hurts like hell."

"See I tol' ya it was because she was a a senative!" Gina piped up, sticking her tongue out at Jason. "Next time lissen… that what Shanisa's momma says…" She sobers a litte at that. "Hope they ok… you think those people lookin' for Willow showed up not the the cops don' ya?"

Willow sighed, feeling the candy bars she ate starting to take effect, but glad she'd be getting more substantial food in her in a matter of moments. She blindly reached for the blanket again and pulled it across her lap and Clay's, covering her bare legs.

"Show up where, Gina? At my apartment? Those people were definitely not cops."

Bill pulls up to the speaker and rolls down the window, "Okay everyone, start ordering." The Monsterburger's motif was modern sci fi, so Ed 209 took their order… it took them slightly longer than 30 seconds to complete though. Clay and Willow tore into their food like starving wolves. Willow could have kissed the man who invented the deep frier at this point.

Gina just watched, stunned. "Wow… why are you guy so skinny when ya eat like that?" She demurly sipped her shake, slipping the cookie in one of her jacket pockets.

"Bill" pulled the car into the street. It was getting low on gas and traffic was starting to pick up. Not to mention he was dog damn tired. Being shot, kicked in nuts and jumping two storeys will do that do you. But where?

"I don't always eat like this," Willow said, finishing her first double cheeseburger and starting on her second and eyeing her third with appreciation. "When I've… When I'm under stress I get really hungry."

She smiled, feeling the edge coming off her hunger and her stomach stopped complaining. Willow took a drink of her own shake, then snagged some of Clay's fries, having eaten all of hers. "I also normally have better manners." She flashed Clay a brilliant but tired smile and popped the fries in her mouth.

"Speaking of manners," she continued, tapping the cyborg on the shoulder. "What isyour name?" Willow gave a sheepish smile.

"You're looking beat," Willow said. "See if you can find a gas station with a bank machine. We can fill up the car and then head to a motel where we can lick our wounds and plan our next move."

She dug into her second burger savoring the taste and smell. Clay was hungry too, she could feel it but he only picked at his food. A confused look crossed his face. Clay's head continued to pound. He rubbed his head, "We're going to have to dump the car. They will know it… good at that… satellites…" his voice trailed off as he rubbed his temples in slow circles. He cursed and pounded his thigh, glaring darkly at Gina when she threatened to pipe up. A stream of blood trickled over his lips, oozing out of his nose. Clay groaned "Akemi," closing his eyes.

"Who's that?" Gina asked quietly.

"Gina, shut up," Clay barks, both hands going to his head, squeezing. The girl gagged, jolted back, milkshake spewing from her mouth and nose.

Clay screamed, throwing his head back in a tortured wail. Willow could sense the mental energy lashing out from him in rolling waves. Gina gargled and spasmed then started to cough. Clay dug his fingers into his temple, teeth gritting as he fought control something. Blood poured in a rush from him nose. "No… no… must… " he panted. The car leapt forward as the accelerator hit the floor. "Bill" felt the wheel turn and jerk of its own accord.

"Clay, stop it. What's wrong?" Willow reaches out and puts a hand on his arm. Knowing she's probably going to regret it, she reaches out with her mind to figure out what's wrong, what's happening to him. Placing her hand to his arm, she felt how hard the muscle were, held taunt and shivering as if a current had been sent through his body. Gritting in pain as she was tossed to the side by the swearving car, she reached out to him. His mind was seething, burning, changing under her mental touch even as she tried to reach him and sooth the damage. Leaning against him, Willow let the physical contact act as a conduit to her mental power, sending it into the maelstrom of his mind. Pain… her physical pain had been nothing compared to anguish sent directly into the mind itself. But she had prepared for it, conjuring the mental image of cool soothing waters, easing the burning. She plucked images from his mind. A girl… Japanese… smiling, seductive, submissive… Akemi.

"Co… Coool."

"If you call nearly getting killed cool, then I guess we are, Gina," Willow replied. She awkwardly got up off her knees and back onto the seat, then gently pulled Clay towards her. Murmuring soothing words, she gently stroked his forehead, and then managed to get him uncurl slightly. Willow hugged him like she would a beloved child who had been hurt and rocked him, whispering to him, saying everything would be alright.

Willow kissed his temple and pulled him closer, trying to use her body and her skills to ease whatever pain he still felt. To comfort him.

"Are you okay now, Gina?" Willow asked softly, still rocking and soothing Clay.

"Yeah… I'm al' right… guess I got choked…" she retrived her Martian Mint Shake from the floor. It was a testament to modern plastic that it was still sealed and looked at it warily. "Must a got choked… what's with him?"

Clay lay still staring at the ceiling. Then he slowly reached over and grabbed a handful of napkins and wipped his face. That done he looked at Willow. "Thank you."

Gently putting his arms around her, he gave her a slow kiss, before settling back down. With a groan, he bunched the blanket up and using it as a pillow lay down. It was cramped, no leg room, but it seemed to ease the tension in his neck and temples. Being as careful as he could he pulled Willow on top of him.

"You better find that hotel fast, Bill." It came out as a more or less intelligible mutter.

Bill crossed back over the median and pulled the car off onto a sidestreet before stopping. He took his jacket and patted his forehead to wipe the perspiration off, showing Gina a slight grin. "What's going on with you two?!" he demanded, reaching for the aspirin and the first aid supplies. There was palatable air of tension in the car,the stink of pain and fear hanging in the air. One by the one, they all looked from face to face, coming to the realization that they looked upon strangers. How many times had they come close to dying with these people and mostly they didn't even no each others names.

Willow sighed heavily. "We all need to talk."

"I hardly know where to start, and I can't speak for Clay. No conceit intended, but the whole thing seems to be centred around me, or at least, what my parents were doing. As you already know, my parents were scientists, and they performed rather illegal and unethical experiments. The only ones I know of were the ones they conducted on me, and I can't even remember them all yet." Clay gently held Willow as she spoke, letting her rest aginst his chest, sighing quietly. The contact was soothing for the both of them and made speaking that much easier for her.

"It all boils down to what I am, rather than who I am. I was an experiment of my parents. I can't remember exactly what it was they were trying to achieve," Willow said, blocking out the images of lab, and of her actions there with Clay. "But all I can say is that they now know they achieved at least part of their goal."

Willow looked at Clay, then back at Bill. "I belive those people at the apartment were trying to get me back, to finish whatever experiments my parents were conducting." She sighed again. "As you already know, I have visions. I can see, smell and hear scenes from the past, present or future. I also have no control over it at all. The visions come, and they take me over completely — I have no awareness of the world around me, or the passage of time."

Willow gives a slight smile. "I am also a bit more than a sensitive, Gina. I can read minds, whether the person is willing or not. Remember the whack I gave you with the bat back at the apartment, Bill? I can also 'see' the weaknesses in a person's physical structure. You know, like a stress in a diamond, so if I hit it just there, I can do the most damage."

"Way cool… you're like an X-Man… " she grinned. "Can you fly?"

"No, Gina. I can't fly." Willow couldn't help but smile slightly. "My parents had no idea I knew about my powers, let alone how to use them, until tonight. You could say I broadcast it all over the place. I'm sorry Gina if it scared you."

"We're going to have to go into hiding, at least until we've healed and can figure out what we are going to do. Can you suggest any place, Bill? And please, don't take us to your employers. I don't want to have to hurt you again," Willow finished, true regret on her voice.

"Excuse me?!" Bill retorted, "Do you not feel what happened to you the last time you tried to hurt me? That was just a combat reflex, and the threat is both uncalled for and unwarranted. Besides, I wasn't planning on taking you in, you were not my objective. I do know this shaddy little hotel that we can hole up in for a day or two maybe."

"There are more ways to hurt a person than to hit them with a baseball bat," Willow said harshly. "I could strip your mind clean of all it's secrets, find your weakness — like how to disable your mechanical limbs, or what the thing you're most afraid of is, and use it against you. You're a fool if you think that all you need is a strong arm."

"Maybe I didn't make myself clear just then–don't make threats to me unless you're lookin' for a fight. I personally don't make it a habit of threatening those that are going out of there way to help me, so don't you either."

Willow held her tongue, knowing if she'd probably say something more and get herself deeper into trouble.

"Cool… " Gina's eyes were wide. "Can you teach me how to do that?"

Clay groaned, "I need sleep, I have been running on reserves all day. I havea fucking mother of a headache. I feel as if someone put me through a meatgrinder. A few hours and then we can talk more." Unconsiouly he rubbed his hardon against Willow.

Suddenly he was consious of the fact that only his pants separted him from her warm opening. He could feel her wetness soaking into his pants causing him further excitement. The shirt Willow wore rode up some, exposing her thighs and rear, the shadowy cleft between her legs. Gina giggled.

He opened his eyes and looked at Bill. Clay growled and fix Bill with a malevolent stare.

"Cool it, loverboy. You want to take care of your own needs, do it somewhere else… on someone else's time, not mine." returning the stare, showing that he is not the type to back down from a challenge.

"Clay," Willow said sharply. "Stop it. Why are you acting this way?" She moved off of Clay, pulled the t-shirt down, and reached for one of the skirts. "There's no reason to act like a Neanderthal." It was an effort to dress, but maybe it would make things just a little more.. normal

Clay looked at her, blinked. What did I do? She's leaving. A little boy look of hurt flashed across his face.

Gina was giggling behind her hand at the whole thing. "Geez.. what a horndog…"

Willow lifted Clay's legs and moved to sit under them, placing them in her lap so he could continue to lie down.

He relaxed. No, she wasn't leaving, just changing position. Why? She felt so good.

As an afterthought, she pulled the blanket over his waist to cover his erection.

Clay's head thumped painfully against the car door and he blinked back tears, "Real good way to get rid of a headache, Willow," he growled and then stared at both Bill and Gina. "What are you two looking at? Shouldn't we be moving?"

Willow resisted sticking her tongue out petulantly at Clay, feeling too drained and confused.

Bill shrugged, turning back to the wheel. He pulled off from the curb, silently amazed that the cops hadn't shown yet. Gina met his eyes and rolled hers back at Clay, her look saying, "Oh brother…" The place he knew wasn't too far, shabby and rundown but servicable and discreet. He grinned. Problably would think they were there for a threesome. "Does scratching with metal arms hurt?"

Actually letting a small smile slip out for the first time in a long while, "Not if you're careful. Just have to be careful where you scratch."

"Like your balls?" Gina replied with simple curiosity, looking Bill right in the eyes.

Clay reached over and took one of Willow's hands in his. He squeezed it and let his eyes drift closed. But he couldn't sleep. She was too near, touching him, yes. He took her hand easing it under the blanket. With his other hand he brought himself out of his pants. He then placed her hand on his cock, showing her by touch that he wanted her to hold him. He sighed, a small smile crossing his face. Willow let out an audible gasp. Gina looked back and giggled. A few moments later, Bill pulled the car into the parking lot of the Arlington Lodge, a strip motel, set back from the street buy a small parking lot. A beer bottle came crashing through one of the window, smashing agsinst a parked van. "Here we are… home again." Bill chuckled.

Willow let go of Clay's cock and tried not to snatch her hand back. She closed her eyes and took a calming breath, then concentrated, trying to bring back the memories of the two of them together, trying to find out why she was reacting the way she was to Clay.

"This place is pretty cool… lotta hos work here though… so take off the bed sheets… ugh!" Gina pulled a face.

Willow nodded absently, barely hearing the words. She concentrated harder, unreacting to the world around her.

Gathering the things he had gotten at the drugstore together, "Should we get you two your own room for the night?" Bill begins to make sure that his arms are completely concealed before stepping away from the car and getting them a room… or two.

Reaching over the seat, Gina gently shook her, "Um, Lady?"

Clay levered himself up and survayed the place, "Yeah, this is good. This type of place would be last on their list." His head twinged and he raised a hand, tensing, but no repeat of before seemed evident.

"How much we got? I don't want to pay with anything but cash," Clay realized that the last had come out slowly. Brain starting to shut down, "Ah… two rooms. Me, Willow and the kid. Bill in another room so… damn… I know good reason…someth' about castling… chickens in one basket, " he shook his head and dragged a hand over his face, knowing that they were all looking at him again.

…All looking at him, waiting for him to fail, to stutter, get the words wrong…
…The teacher looking at him with boredom and contempt…
…I can do this…

…The borders of your mind are blurring, a voice, strong confident, try again. Keep your mind on the here and now. Good. Now castle. Not with your hands, your mind…

"I don't want to, I am tired. I hate fucking chess anyway," Clay paused when he realized where he was sitting in the back seat of a car. Two strangers were looking at him from the front seat. A guy and a little girl. Woman…

…"perverted little bastard, looking at me I'll teach you," …
… pain…

He shuddered. Where am I? The girl was familar. Girl not a woman. Girl. Willow? Wasn't that a movie?

"Willow?" Voice hesitant, questioning.

Willow opened her eyes, startled. She gave Gina a weak smile, then turned her head. When her eyes met Clay's, her gaze went cold and full of hate. "You," she said, her voice cold and deadly. "You are never to touch me again unless I tell you that you can. Do you understand? If you do, you'll hurt so bad that that last headache of yours will feel like a mild irritation." She roughly shoved Clay's legs out of her lap and climbed out of the car.

Clay stared at Willow in shock. The triple blow taking his breath clear away.

"Get us one room, Bill. Gina and I can sleep on one of the doubles, if she doesn't mind. You can have the other. I don't give a damn where he sleeps, as long as it's not next to me."

"Whatever." Bill walks off towards the office.

Gina looked from Willow to the stunned Clay. "Man… you pissed her off good… ya need ta be more subtle… " Gina climbed out of the car,walking around to Willow. "Why ya so pissed?"

After a few minutes, Bill returned with the keys. The room was shabby, small and smelled of old stale beer and mildew. There were two beds, both made up with cheap, but depsite Gina's assertions, clean looking sheets. The TV was coin operated, scarred with cigarette burns and carved initials. "I gotta pee." Gina said as she walked into the toilet.

Clay walked in like a zombie, staring at Willow, pain and confusion plain in his eyes. God, he looks like a kicked puppy, Willow got herself thinking. Was that another condtioned response? she added bitterly. She needed to lay down. Walking made pain shoot through her body, her ribs felt like they were grinding together with every step.

Bill sat out the first aid supplies on the bed and turned to Willow. "Let's go you patched up." Willow sat on the bed, slowly, one arm wrapped about her bruised chest. At this point modesty seemed ridiculous. She pulled off the t-shirt and lay back.

Clay sat down on the chesterfield slowly. It felt as if someone had pulled a large band tight around his chest. It hurt to breath. She hated him. That was clear. He felt his throat close up. Laying down he turned his back to the room, curling up, trying to ease the pain. Alone.

Tossing the car keys to Clay, "Why don't you ditch the car somewhere while I get her patched up. Gina, you know of any good spots to hide the car at?" The keys landed ignored before him.

Clay curled up more and placed his hands over his ears trying to block out the voices within. "I love you, Willow…"

Tears suddenly sprang to Willow's eyes. "If you do, then why the hell did you do that to me?" She closer her eyes and sent the images from her memory blasting towards him, every detail full of her feelings of pain and betrayal, but the hate was gone.

She opened her eyes again. "Dammit Clay, you were working for my parents. Hell, you were probably working for them too." The tears slid down Willow's face unchecked. "I don't know what to believe anymore. Are my reactions really mine, or am I like Pavlov's dog–one touch from you and I'm a bitch in heat?"

Not wanting to get involved, Bill acted like nobody was even talking. "Gina, can you fill the ice bucket up with some cold water?" he said loud enough for her to hear him through the bathroom door. He starts a visual examination to see just exactly what he needs to work on, then starts dabbing some antiseptic on some of the areas. He helps her lay back onto the bed, placing her other arm over her chest to conceal her breasts, and starts gently pressing on her abdomen. She winced and shuddered a bit but made very litte noise. There didn't seem to be in internal bleeding, maybe some cracked ribs and definatly major bruising.

Clay turned and stared at her in shock. My god what the hell kinda man was I? He turned the scattered images around in his mind, pushing the emotions aside as best he could. Trying to get some sort of lock on them, some sense of connection to him. He wanted to touch her, comfort her put she hadn't said he could.

Gina stepped out of the bathroom, lugging the bucket over to the bed. "Are you a doc-" She stoppped notcing Willow's tears, Clay's position and the general tension in the room.

He reached out gently to touch her mind ready to pull back. He really didn't want to discuss this in front of the other two. But what was to discuss? He had obviously done this thing. His own memory of her on a metal table pointed towards that. But he didn't remember doing it or why. What could he say?

His eyes went to the other two. They needed some explanation, "I am sorry. The two of you seem to have fallen into some nasty shit. You see Willow is probaly right. I most likely did work for those that are after us but I don't remember it. I don't remember anything. Bits and pieces. I don't even know my name. Willow named me. There now you know everything I do."

He glanced at the car keys and picked them up. He looked at Gina, "You don't have come along just tell me where to go."

His voice had a wooden, detached quality to it, even to his ears.

"Sure I'll come with ya… " Gina said quietly, looking over at Willow. "She gonna be ok?"

Bill nodded, taping her up. "Should be.. needs some rest." It looked like she had lost 4 pounds since he first saw her, Jesus…

"Please," Willow said softly. "Bring me my stuff from the car. My art supplies." She opened her eyes and looked at Bill, taking in the expression on his face. She smiled weakly. "You're right. All I need is rest. Using my abilities is very taxing on my body, and I really overdid it eariler. It's nothing that rest and lots of food won't cure."

Willow then looked at Gina. "It's all right, Gina. I'll be okay. You be careful." Willow avoided meeting Clay's eyes, letting exhaustion draw her eyes closed again.

Gina sighed and headed out to the car with Clay. Along the way she looked up at him. "What did ya do to her?"

Clay sighed. "I don't know Gina. She showed me what she remembered, but I don't know what I did. I can't remember. It was something bad though."

He sat in the car wondering if he remember how to drive. Keys, brake, park. He turned the keys and lightly pumped. Drive, a little gas, steer. Easy. He sighed knowing it an exercise in lunacy.

He followed Gina's directions silently, his mind brooding. She had let Bill touch her. His hands all over her body. Red light. Clay slammed on the brakes. Instinctivly holding his arm out to stop Gina from going forward.

"You okay?"

"Whoa man… chill out… you are real worked up… " Gina said looking over at you. "Here… stash it here and it'll be stripped in an hour." She grinned.

He parked the car, wishing he could torch it. Carefully he gathered the art supplies and pausing looked at Gina.

"How old are you?"

"Oh I dunno… 10 or something… " She shrugged.

"Are you a woman or a child still?" he asked as he moved some stuff towards the back, "did you want me to treat you like a woman or a child?"

"Look… I ain't no kid ok… I live by myself and take care a myself too…" Thrusting her hands in her pockets, she looks up and down the street. "You can treat me however ya want… if I don' like it… I'll tell ya."

Clay looked at her thoughtfully, wondering at the overtones in her statement, "Well, here's the deal. I can treat you like a woman but I expect you pull your own weight, and I'll consider you the same as Bill or Willow. Or I can treat you like a child and expect nothing at all."

"I can take care a myself… don't know about takin' care of all a you though…" she grinned. "I ain't no kid."

He paused and looked down at her. "Gina I am sorry about yelling at you earlier. I know its no excuse but I'm tired and I was in a lot of pain," he paused again, "do you know what its like when you know you know something? It's right there on the tip of your brain, all you have to do is concentrate just a little. And then someone or something breaks your concentration?"

"It's okay… I been yelled at before… no big deal."

"You realize of course that now that you are with us, you can't leave?"

She looks up at you, eyes widening. "What tha fuck are you talking about!? Willow says I can go where ever I wanna… and I can!"

Clay sighs and hands her the art box. "I don't doubt it. But it would not be smart. Listen to me. You have a right to know," his eyes said that it was because he was treating her as a woman, that he was saying these things. "The people that are after us may be like Willow and myself. If I wanted to I could reach in to your mind, and strip it bare," he lied. If I remembered how. The image that Willow sent him came to his mind again. "But I won't because you are my friend. I won't ever go into your mind unless you ask. But the people who are after us won't care."

"If they could kill Willow's parents, then what do you think they will do to you? Worse, they will use you against Willow, against me."

"I am sorry Gina. I would rather kill you then let you fall into their hands. I think it would be a blessing."

She backed away, eyes wide and horrifed. "You… stay away from me… just stay awy from me!" She turned and started to run down the street, dropping the box.

Clay sighed and placing the art stuff to the side took off after her. She was fast and knew the area. Gina ducked into an alley, weaving among the bins and litter. He saw her duck down out of sight at the far end of the alley.

Shit! He extended his senses as he ran.

Running to the end of the alley he found her bolthole, a tiny crack in the base of one of the buildings. Little room for him to squeeze into. But he could hear her in there, scrabbling quietly about, her breathing harsh and ragged. She's scared scared to death… Real smooth, Clay.

He sighed and sat down, "Gina? Look I," another frustrated sigh, "I am not going to hurt you. I just wanted you to understand what we are up against. If they get you, they can quit looking because they would then have me. And Willow. Because we would try to get you out. Walk right up to them as long as they stopped hurting you. And if I couldn't rescue, if I couldn't stop them from hurting you, then I would kill you. And I pray to god you would have the courage to do the same for me."

"We are all in this together. You deserve to know the danger. Not to be treated like a child and told nothing."

"I would put myself in front of a bullet for you." Where did that come from? He wondered, but it was true, he would kill to keep this one safe. From who?


"You said… said… I could never leave… said you would kill me if I did… I wanna see my friends… they miss me… and I love them!"

"Oh Gina, I won't kill you if you leave. But you just might kill us if you do. And your friends. Remember what happened to Shanisa and her mom, and I didn't even know them. I wasn't there very long."

"I don't know about 'never'. I just don't. I don't know how long they will look, I don't even know if your friends will be in danger. But they might. It's your decision. The world is not fair. Being an adult sucks. I will protect you as best I can. Will you protect us? Your friends?"

"You can leave, but now you know the full consquences of that choice. Do you really want them to have Willow? They would twist her into peverse copies of themselves and then who knows."

"You don' understan'… they're my family… all of 'em… I can't jus' leave em… like… oh fergit it… I'll go when I wanna go… but I wanna talk ta Willow… " She scrambled through the crack in the wall and stood dusting off her jeans.

Clay looked at her sadly and reached out to brush her hair out of her eyes. "Sure."

As they head back to pick up the supplies, he carefully kept his mind filled with trivialities. He didn't want to remember anymore, didn't want to be able to pull the memories of his past to light in perfect detail. He just wanted to curl up and sleep.

He spoke not a word on the walk back. The girl was dead or worse. He could see it. And he struggled to put that out of his mind. Faintly distressed that his mind could conjure up such things.

He paused at the hotel door and knocked.

Gathering the supplies again, you both walk back to the hotel in silence. "Bill" is up by the door when you enter. Willow lies still sleeping, so peaceful and beatiful it makes you heart ache. What did you.. how could you do that to her… only the vauge feeling of having had a reason lingers in your mind. Gina curls up on the bed beside Willow.