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"Imagination is more important than knowledge"
An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail 
10th-Oct-2008 01:58 am
BTVS - comic - Willow - magick
Title: An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail
Author: Elisa
Rating: R
Summary: Love in the time of terror is shameless. Mike/Chester future!fic.
Author’s Note: Borrows heavily from one of my favorite books, George Orwell’s 1984. Partly inspired by the Shadow of the Day video. The title is taken from THIS SONG. I’m so original, aren’t I? Tracie, thank you for giving me confidence. <3
Warnings: This fic contains what is, for all intents and purposes, terrorism. Also, uh, NOT FLUFFY (I feel like I should warn for this, rofl).




I.
The call comes at three am and Chester is immediately, instantly alert, every muscle tensed and ready.

He’s on his feet in less than a second, eyes instinctively sweeping the room. His ocular implant has automatically switched to night vision, and though he can clearly see that he is alone in his Spartan, one room flat, he does not relax.

He picks up the phone – a tiny capsule that fits inside the ear canal, together with a small black patch that attaches to the cheek by the side of one’s lips – and it activates immediately.

The voice is brusque and business-like, as he has come to expect.

“Agent One-Nine-Five-Six.”

“Reporting,” Chester replies, just as brusquely. “Tag: One-Nine-Seven-Seven-Eight. Authorization: Alpha.”

“Confirmed. Agent, you are under attack. Vacate the premises immediately.”

He takes the time to draw one deep, sustaining breath, and then he springs into movement, his actions automatic and ingrained; he’s trained for this countless times.

Within thirty seconds, he has a small black bag attached to his back and a knife – primitive but effective - strapped to an arm. He opens his window silently.

The blast comes when he’s not far off the ground, and he jumps the last fifteen feet, instantly running the moment his feet touch the ground.

He disappears into the night, the detached voice in his ear giving him directions.


II.
“Chester. Look at this.”

Mike hands him a data pad with a picture of a building on it.

Chester glances at it, shrugs, and hands it back. “So?”

Mike takes it. “So, this is it. The new military complex. This is where my contacts say the Nova weapon will be stored.”

Chester gives him a disbelieving look. “Mike, your contacts have been compromised. You can’t trust them.”

Mike shakes his head, stubbornly. “They’ve never failed me before! And I really think -”

Chester throws up his hands. “Michael! You don’t know if the person behind the Agent’s name is the same! You don’t even know if any of your so called contacts are actually alive! You heard the report. Intelligence has been compromised. Your contacts are probably government officials posing as Resistance agents to draw the rest of us out. And you’re playing right into their hands, goddamnit!”

Mike makes an impatient noise. “But -”

Chester doesn’t hear the rest of the argument, because he throws his hands up and stomps out of the room. Mike hears him rattling around in the kitchen a few moments later, but he doesn’t move to follow.

Later, Mike finds him in the bedroom, curled up and reading a data pad, his back to Mike.

Mike clears his throat, shifting his weight back and forth. “I’m sorry,” he says awkwardly. “I’ve terminated communications with all of the sources. They’ll think I’m dead.”

Chester turns over, staring blankly at Michael.

“You were right,” Mike says. “I can’t trust any of them – I can’t trust anybody but you.”

Chester’s stomach roils in guilt, but he keeps his face neutral and nods before gesturing Mike closer. Mike sits next to him, stretching his legs out on the bed and leaning back against the pillows. He puts his head on Chester’s shoulder, and Chester automatically curls an arm around him.

They stay like that long into the night.


III.
“Floor one hundred and eighteen,” the voice says. “Apartment eighteen-fifty-six. Your instructions will be waiting for you. Good luck, agent.” The signal disconnects and Chester resists the urge to curse and instead boards the hypolifts.

In seconds, he’s stepping off at the correct floor. He glances around and floating before him appear two information bubbles, both a brightly lit light blue with black lettering - an optical illusion that nevertheless directs him where he needs to go.

He follows the correct one, the sign disappearing as soon as he turns his head, and arrives outside apartment eighteen-fifty-six. He does not hesitate as he raises his hand to briefly touch the control pad by the door.

The door slides open a centimeter.

“Epsilon.”

“Alpha.”

The door opens farther, just enough for him to slip inside, and he does, warily.

“Agent One-Nine-Five-Six.” The man standing inside the flat is his age, approximately; tall and bearded, part Asian in decent by appearance.

The man smiles. “My name is Michael.”



IV.
“Have you ever heard of the Teremburg Pact?”

Mike’s voice calls out to Chester, who is standing in the kitchen, pondering what to take out of the refrigerated storage unit and put in the rehydrator for dinner.

Chester freezes at Mike’s words, thoughts flying suddenly at him from all directions. He panics for approximately two seconds before his training kicks in, and he takes a deep breath.

He takes a moment to compose himself – to make his facial expression neutral, to color his voice with a mildly curious tone, and then calls back, “No. What is it?”

“C’mere, I’ll explain.”

Cursing mentally, he walks into the study, leaning over Mike and pretending to study one of the data pads Mike holds. He rests a hand on the other man’s shoulder for support. “Well?”

“The Teremburg Pact was the name of a movement in the late 2040’s.” Mike replies. “A political movement. They ended up creating the first Nova weapon.”

He frowns. “All the Nova weapons made after 2050 have been destroyed, as you know. But we’ve gotten word that the government has found the original, the one the Teremburgs made in 2028. And with that, they can duplicate the technology. One Nova weapon is horrific enough, but if they make more…”

He shakes his head in dismay. “The information I have says the weapon will be transferred to the new military complex that they’re building outside the city limits, where they have the equipment to study it. It’ll arrive on the day of the grand opening. And after that, it’s only a matter of time.”

Chester’s insides have all gone cold, but he shakes it off. He’s a trained Alpha agent, one of the best, elite; he went through hell to become one, and he will complete his mission.

Michael or no Michael.

“How did you learn about this?”

“I still have contacts that I trust, no matter what the orders were.”

Chester shakes his head. “What if this is just an attempt to draw out remaining Resistance agents?” Take the bait, he prays silently. Don’t pursue it.

Mike sighs. “I don’t know.” He abruptly tears his glasses from his face and throws them on the desk, putting his face into his hands.

“I don’t know who to trust anymore, Chester,” he says quietly; Chester tightens his hand on his shoulder, squeezing supportively.

But it doesn’t seem to be enough, and keeping up appearances at this point really doesn’t seem to much matter, so instead he bends down and wraps Mike in a warm if awkward hug.

They stay that way for a long time, Chester’s head resting on Mike’s neck, his arms wrapped around Mike’s chest, Mike’s hands coming up to cling onto Chester’s arms.


V.
“I’ve never…done this before.”

There’s a pause in which he curses himself for opening his mouth.

“Never?”

He gives an uncomfortable shrug. “My parents were killed when I was seven. I was raised in one of the government institutions, and the Resistance recruited me when I came of age.”

He sighs. Drops his head.

“My whole live has been spent just trying to survive, Mike.”

Mike’s hand is warm on his bicep and Mike’s face is brushing against his own, and Mike makes a small, wounded sound before kissing Chester soundly. He brings his other hand up to cup Chester’s cheek, leans in and breaths in Chester’s ear.

“I’ll teach you everything you want to know.”


VI.
The man inside the door is waiting expectantly, his hand outstretched, an enigmatic look on his face.

Chester gives him a cool, almost confused look. He doesn’t reach to shake the other man’s hand and eventually, the man drops it. Chester clears his throat.

“Agent One-Nine-Five-Six reporting. Tag: One-Nine-Seven-Seven-Eight. Authorization: Alpha.”

“I know. Come on in.”

He motions Chester farther into the apartment, ushering him to sit on a leather arm chair. Michael sits next to him and gives him a small, twitchy sort of smile. The chair is comfortable but Chester does not relax.

“You’re intelligence,” He realizes aloud, and the other man’s smile grows wider.

“Yes,” he says simply.

Chester’s ocular implant has immediately adjusted to the brightly lit room, and he is struck by the richness of it, the luxury. It’s small, but wisely used: a desk sits in a corner, a telescreen on the wall in front of it. The two chairs they occupy sit, along with a third, around a small coffee table. The room is decorated all in reds and golds, burgundies and beiges and browns.

“This is nothing like my flat.”

“Well...governmental personnel are given better quarters than the general populace.”

There’s a beat of silence.

“Governmental personnel.” Chester’s tone is flat.

“Yes.”

“An assignment?”

Michael hesitates only a fraction of a moment before answering, but Chester mentally catalogues and files the pause anyway. He trusts the man, as far as he is capable of trusting – the Resistance did send him to this place. But he wasn’t trained to not notice such things.

“Yes.”

Chester nods.

“Where are my orders?”

“Ah.” Michael stands and walks to the desk, off which he takes something. He returns to his seat.

Two capsules sit in the palm of his hand, both black and shiny, one split in two and hollow, the two pieces hanging together by a miniscule hinge, the other whole. He hands the whole one to Chester, who immediately places it inside of his ear.

He listens, his body tense, as Mike plays with a fiber coming off his grey shirt. Chester finds himself grateful for his training yet again – he keeps his facial expression level as the orders come through the earpiece. He does not gasp, or blink, or shift his body in any minutely telltale way.

Chester removes the capsule, now split like the other, and Mike looks up.

“Same orders as mine, probably. You’re to stay here until another identity can be set up for you.”

Chester nods – not too quickly, and not hesitating. That supposition suits him perfectly, and so he’s willing to go along with it.

“That’s fine,” Michael says, standing. “I don’t mind, in case you’re wondering. You’ll be no hindrance. There’s only the one bedroom, but we can work things out. I’ll make the bed up for you now – you must be exhausted.”

It’s five am now, two hours since the call, and Chester’s adrenaline is still so high that he knows he won’t be able to sleep. Nevertheless, he agrees, and he follows the other man down a short hallway to the bedroom, again decorated in reds and golds. Michael flips the cover up and off the control panel, and pushes a button; the bedclothes are instantly stripped and replaced.

Chester dismisses the man with a gruff thank you and prowls around the room a bit before climbing into the massive bed. He lays on the side nearest the wall, where he can see the door, and eventually he dozes.




Later in the morning, when Chester emerges, Michael is nowhere to be found in the small flat. In the kitchen, however, a steaming cup of coffee sits on the steel table. Above it floats an information bubble, with the words “Help yourself. Enjoy,” floating in it.

Chester leans over the cup, inhaling deeply. A flood of memories come back to him; he is four and eating breakfast with his parents; his is five and his father is reading the newspaper, frowning at the headlines; he is six and his mother is setting a mug down in front of his father. “Enjoy,” she had said, ruefully. “It’s the last of it.”

A sound behind him makes him jump around and automatically move into a defensive stance; he’s almost begun to attack when his brain registers that it’s just Michael behind him.

Michael is staring at him with an eyebrow cocked.

“Guess that training really does stick to you Alphas,” he finally murmurs.

Chester sneers at him, momentarily disgusted. “Intelligence agents,” he mutters. “You’re all soft. When do you ever -”

Chester is up against the wall with a forearm against his throat before he realizes it.

“Intelligence agents,” Michael says very clearly, his face inches from Chester’s, “are not soft.”

There’s a heady, heart pounding, blood rushing tense moment between them before Chester speaks.

“I see that,” he says carefully, his breathing difficult. Michael pushes just a bit harder before he lets up. Chester doesn’t give in to the temptation to rub his throat.

Mike hands him his coffee with a overly polite, ironic gesture, and Chester gives a bitter laugh.

“Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve smelled coffee? Since I’ve met anybody who has it?”

Mike picks up a cup off his own off the steel counter before answering. “Probably twenty years, I would say.”

Chester nods. “Twenty years.” He shakes his head, then takes a sip and makes a face.

“Doesn’t live up to the memory.”

Michael laughs suddenly, the sound incongruous in the clinical room. “You have to put sugar in it. And cream.”

Chester gives him a look. “Next you’ll be telling me you have them.”

Michael smiles, and picks up a small metal pot. “Sugar,” he says. “Use two spoonfuls, probably.” He presses on the wall and a door opens, revealing a refrigerator. “And cream.”

Chester is staring at him. “How in the hell…”

Michel smiles again. “I’m in Intelligence,” he says. “You wouldn’t believe the black market contacts I have.”


VII.
The alert of the telescreen, a soft chirping heard through the apartment, interrupts their animated conversation. Mike murmurs an excuse and, tossing a promising smile over his shoulder, leaves the room. Chester smiles to himself as he picks up his coffee and takes a sip; in the month he’s been a guest in Michael’s apartment, he’s grown quite attached to the substance.

He almost drops the cup when, from the study, a strangled, incoherent cry sounds.

He’s at Michael’s side in an instant; the other man is standing by his desk and staring in horror at the telescreen, one hand braced on the chair.

Chester reads the short message on the telescreen and goes numb, all over; he thinks he drops to the floor but he’s too busy blacking out to really care.



When he wakes, he’s laying, sprawled, on the bed; Michael is hovering anxiously over him, and, still out of it, Chester smiles at him.

Michael doesn’t smile back.

And then Chester remembers.




Orders are to sit and wait, and so they do. Michael gives up on trying to work and Chester gives up on trying to think, period, and they sit together in the chill silence of the flat. It grows gradually dark and neither moves to turn on a light.

Finally, the soft chirping of the telescreen sounds, and both men are on their feet, stiff after sitting so long. The telescreen is lit up again, with only a few lines on it.

Intelligence system fatally compromised. Thousands of agents captured or killed. Consider all other agents untrustworthy. This is the last message you will receive from this source.

Chester and Michael look at one another.



Later, the news is on the airways, on all of the channels. Usually when the Regime takes over the stations it is for useless propaganda; this time, though, they don’t have to embellish.

The truth is devastating enough.

There’s footage of the raids. Neither of them want to watch but neither can help themselves.

They show a mother being ripped from her child. The mother is forced down onto the pavement and handcuffed. A man in a black soldier’s uniform steps on the back of her head, breaking her nose. The blood spurts onto the pavement and the child cries out before a man in a black contamination suit lifts her up and out of the shot. CONFIRMED TERRORIST AGENT, the text reads over the image, as it zooms in to focus on the woman’s anguished face.

They show a group of men on their knees, lined up on a sidewalk, their hands tied behind their backs. A soldier, wearing a face obscuring helmet, makes his slow, steady way down the line with a gun. One by one, the lined up men crumple. They show a close up of one of the men’s faces; he has his eyes to the heavens and his lips move in a silent litany. Then the man’s face goes slowly blank as blood sprays the camera. CONFIRMED TERRORISTS.

They show soldiers busting down the doors of a room filled with telescreens and computers. The men and women working at the consoles are all shot; they slide to the ground and bleed out on the tile. CELL OF TERRORIST ACTIVITY.

They show an elderly man dragged out of his home and beaten brutally. TERRORIST COLLUDER.

They show a child, a boy no more than nine, with his head and hands confined in the stocks outside his school. Every thirty seconds, the boy is shocked with the electrodes on his forehead. CONFIRMED TERRORIST SYMPATHIZER.

Chester leans over and vomits on Michael’s rug.




Chester is violently ill for quite a long time, and Michael finds himself guiding the other man to the toilet. And once there, it seems only natural to stay with him, to place a consoling hand on his back.

And after that, things between them change.



VIII.
The next day, there is a raid across the hall.

Mike’s position in the government is supposed to keep him safe – but the woman across the hall is government personnel as well.

Was government personnel.

They cower. It’s the only thing they can do, really: if the soldiers enter Mike’s flat they will discover Chester, and then they will both be executed immediately.

And so they lay together on the bed, terrified, as the sounds of soldiers and gunfire and screams of horror filter into the room. They lay together, and if they end up crying into each other’s necks, neither thinks the worse of the other for it.

Love in the time of terror is shameless.



IX.
Chester walks into the kitchen to find Mike sitting cross-legged on the floor, a half emptied large metallic box on the floor in front of him. There are various objects scattered across the floor.

He grunts a good morning, moving automatically to drink his coffee, which waits for him on the stainless steel table. A few sips later, and he feels alive enough to mumble something.

“What’s that?”

Michael looks up, his brown eyes alert. “Black market stuff,” he says cheerfully.

“Ah…and do I even want to know how you got it?”

Mike grins. “Probably not. Come look though, there’s some interesting stuff.”

Chester gives a non-committal grunt and seats himself next to Mike, coffee cradled in his hand. “What is this?” He asks, picking up an object made of metal, a short chain connecting two loops.

Mike turns a bright shade of red. “Handcuffs,” he mutters.

“Hand – what’s?”

“They’re handcuffs,” Michael repeats, and clears his throat. “It’s a replica of something that police used to use in the last century. They were used to bind the hands of criminals.”

“Oh.” Chester frowns. “A replica? Why would they make these anymore? The soldiers all have the standard issue energy bonds.”

Mike’s blush deepens. “They, ah, have other purposes.”

Chester stares at him in confusion. “Like what?”

Mike snatches them out of Chester’s hand and stuffs them back in the box, muttering something incomprehensible. Chester’s amusement grows.

“Mike,” he says, incredulously. “What in the hell are they for?”

“You really don’t know?”

“No! Obviously not!”

“Oh.”

There’s an awkward silence.

“They’re used for sex games.”

Chester nearly chokes on his coffee.

“What?” he asks, fascinated. “Give those back! I want to see them.”

Mike laughs, trying to fend him off, but Chester smacks his arms away and digs the handcuffs back out. He stares at them in fascination, turning them over in his hands.

“How do you open them?”

“There’s a key.” Mike fishes in the box until he finds it. He hands it over and Chester amuses himself for a good five minutes just opening and closing them. Mike watches in amusement.

Finally, Chester looks up.

“These look fun,” he announces, and gets up suddenly, leaving the room with them.

Michael just shakes his head, grinning, and continues going through the box.

Later, however, when he walks back into the bedroom, a glint of metal catches his eye, and he realizes that the handcuffs have been hung on one of the bed posts.

Waiting.

Mike nearly runs in his hurry to find Chester.


X.
They don’t have many days left.

They know this.

Raids are becoming more and more frequent as the date of the grand opening approaches; it is only a matter of time until somebody talks, somebody cracks, Mike’s position is given away, and the soldiers come for them.

The Resistance is crippled. Scattered. Fragmented.

A lost cause.

They fall into each other with the fervor that comes to men who know they are about to die.



XI.
Mike is nearly silent during the entire week leading up to the opening of the military complex. He walks around the flat in a haze, scarcely saying a word. Chester doesn’t know what to say to him and so he doesn’t speak much either, the two of them communicating mostly through gestures and lingering expressions.

Finally, the day of the grand opening, the day the Nova weapon will arrive, he breaks. He stands silently, completely still, contemplating the telescreen, and then snaps. He picks up his desk chair and throws it, suddenly and violently, across the room. It crashes against the wall loudly and falls to the ground.

It’s not enough. He slams a fist into the wall, leaving a cracked dent. He does it again, and again, until Chester runs in to find him, stopping his arm with a gently restraining hand and leading him over to a chair.

Mike sits hunched over, his face in his hands, for a long time; Chester pours them both stiff drinks and puts a glass into Mike’s hands, which he accepts blindly. When he finally raises his head, his eyes are red and his voice tired.

“Are we really going to sit here and do nothing?” The utter despair in his voice makes Chester long to soothe him, to tell him all about his plans, all his hopes.

Instead, he swallows hard. “What could we do?” he asks, forcing his voice into a reasonable tone. “What could we possibly do without Resistance intelligence? We wouldn’t make it within a hundred yards.”

Mike looks at him sadly. “I know,” he whispers. “But…”

“The best thing we can do now for the Resistance is to survive.” There’s a funny feeling in his throat as he says the words, as if he might choke on them, but he keeps pushing. “To lay low, and wait for orders from the Resistance.”

“The Resistance is dead,” Mike says dully.

Chester can’t think of anything to say to that.



XII.
Mike comes to suddenly, shivering. He grumbles something unintelligible at Chester – who is forever stealing the covers – and slowly moves an arm out in search of the other man, on a mission to poke Chester until he wakes and gives Mike some of the blankets back.

His hand falls on the empty bed beside him, and he sits up quickly, the sudden, bitter taste of premonition in his mouth. The covers have fallen into a twisted heap on the floor, and though his skin is sweaty, he shivers violently. He doesn’t remember going to bed – remembers only having a short conversation with Chester, both of them drinking in an attempt to forget. Then nothing.

Chester is nowhere to be found in the small bedroom.

Neither is he in the bathroom, nor the kitchen, nor the study. He is nowhere in the small apartment and Mike slumps against the study wall as the room spins and he has to remind himself to breathe.

In all the months he’s been hiding here, Chester has never once left the apartment. Not once.

Michael’s eyes fall on the shelf to the side of the desk, where the last communications from his sources lie; the data pads are scattered, out of order – and one short. He rummages through them, frantically, and realizes finally which is missing. He gives a small, dismayed groan; the one with the schematics of the new military building is not there.

His mind puts it together suddenly. It all clicks into place, and he stares in shock for a blank moment. His legs give out and he falls to the floor, barely aware, his breathing short and gasping.

In a daze, he turns his head. Looks out the small window facing the city.

And sees the blast as it happens, the roaring fireball lighting up the distant sky, blocking out the sight of the golden setting sun.


XIII.
“Did you ever think about what life would be like if the Resistance had won?”

Mike shifts on the bed, turning to lay on his side, facing Chester.

“Sometimes,” he says.

Chester looks at him.

“Only sometimes?”

Mike shrugs. “I don’t know,” he says. “It just all feels too far away to even think about. What’s the use of dreaming of a better world when you have to live in this one?”

Chester is silent for a long time.

“The world can’t become a better place without the dreamers,” he says finally. “It takes men and women thinking about what life could be like to create change.”

Mike’s eyes are tired. “What’s the point?” he asks bleakly. “I don’t understand why you’re bringing this up now.”

Chester just gives a small smile and curls around Mike.

“Someday you will.”


XIV.
Michael,

By now you know what I’ve done.

I won’t apologize to you. I have lied to you all these months, yes, but out of necessity. At first I was doing it because of my training to always be cautious, and because of the fact that my orders hadn’t specified whether or not to share the information that I received with you. And then, after the Resistance fell, I knew I still couldn’t tell you – if I had, you would have prevented me from going, and I would not have been able to leave you if you had asked.

And this mission must be accomplished. The Regime cannot be allowed to harness the powers of the Nova class weapons. They must be stopped, Mike.

There is more, still, than what you know. Your contacts have been accurate in their information (I won’t apologize for misleading you on that matter, either; it was, once again, necessary), but they did not know everything.

The Regime’s entire upper echelon of government – all of the men at the top, so to speak, will be at this grand opening gala. The Leader, the Cabinet, the Generals – everybody.

I plan to destroy them.

Life isn’t meant to be tolerated, Mike. It’s meant to be enjoyed. Love, poetry, language, freedom – all of these things should be givens.

I asked you, once, if you ever thought about what life would be like if the Resistance were to win. This is your opportunity to find out.

I want so badly for you to live your life, instead of enduring it. I want you to be able to read your books openly instead of hiding them. To live where you want to live instead of in some government housing forced on you.

To love openly whom you choose to love.

You have to do all these things for me, Michael. And you can’t give up. You are the smartest man I have ever met, and the world will need men like you in the coming days.

You have to know by now what exactly it is that I feel for you, and I won’t cheapen it by trying to name it. You know and I know, and the knowledge is enough. These past few months have been more than I could have asked for, more than I knew was possible. I go to my death with the memory of your lips on mine, and it gives me strength.

Remember me, Michael. And live.


Chester.

Comments 
12th-Oct-2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
upon second read, i'd like to restate my initial

OUHFEWIUHRWEIGY
UYGW4R798Y
87T32IUEDKUHEKH
elisa!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ELISA!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11


because, dude. so sad. so intense. so terrifying. i lovelovelove it. and the v for vendetta vibe is stronger and hotter the second time around. you so rock.
12th-Oct-2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
*tears up* Oh, that was so sad!

I totally got the V for Vendetta vibe or Nine Inch Nails Year Zero-ness!

So many sentances in this just stick out as beautiful and poiniant on their own.

Also I love this origional idea! Just when I feel Ive read everything in lpfiction I get a treat like this.

13th-Oct-2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Favorite line: Love in the time of terror is shameless.

Beautifully written, well structured, kind of a balance of everything, from lighthearted moments to violence to humor to intensity. Awesome job.
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