I'm not who you think I am.
Not that I'm saying I can read your mind or anything spooky like that. In fact, in all honesty, I have no idea in respect to what you actually think of me. I just know, however, that what you're seeing is only the mere tip of the iceberg.
You see the only thing I can't hide. My physical presence. That's all.
And, what exactly is it that you see?
You smiled at me when I entered the bar, so I suppose that means you must have liked what you saw. Hey, it's human nature. I only returned the smile because I liked what I saw. Physical attraction. We wouldn't be here together otherwise. Sorry if that sounds clinical, but it's true.
Anyway, something about my appearance appealed to you. My eyes? You're right, I *have* heard that 'windows to your soul' line before. Quite often in fact. I didn't believe it the first time I heard it and I still don't. For, you see, if it was true, you wouldn't be here with me now. I'm not saying I'm soulless, but I just wouldn't look too closely into them if I were you. The sea of nothingness you'd see might be a bit off putting.
My body? I'm fit because I have to be. If you like it then, well, whatever. I'm glad it pleases you. It's high maintenance though, and it aches more than it looks like it should. Still, it gets me around. As far as I'm concerned, it serves a purpose.
My face? Hate to break this to you, but the dimples are deceptive. I can't do anything about them. They're just there. I sometimes wish I could get rid of them. They give me an aura of innocence that I don't deserve.
The latest designer clothes, hideously expensive watch that tells the time just as well as the two dollar one bought from a street corner does, whiz-bang mobile phone that... And, yeah, you have never seen one like it before and that's because they're not for sale to the general public. It comes part and parcel with the ID badge hidden in my back pocket and the gun in my jacket that you're not going to see. Leather wallet full of cash. If nothing else, it's obvious I have money.
Polite. Softly spoken, perhaps on the simple side of eloquent, but I'm no redneck. I don't spit, scratch my crotch in public and I talked to your face as opposed to your breasts. I'm a nice guy. I bought you drinks, laughed at your not overly amusing anecdotes and refrained from patting you on the butt when you got off your stool. I even smiled once or twice. And, in case you're interested, yes, miraculously the teeth are still my own.
Out of the Calvin Klein and Versace, and standing on my own merits alone, I have no tattoos or piercings. Thank you for not commenting on the scars. While I know they're not exactly hideous or too obvious, they're still there and kinda unavoidable. I've had no complaints about my size. But, hey, I'm male, so it could probably be bigger.
So, putting the pieces together, what do you come up with? What do you think my life story would be?
Rich, definitely. Stylish, sophisticated and seemingly comfortable with it. Subsequently he was born into money, he didn't have to pull himself up out of the gutter. Alone in a big motel in a big city. Businessman? Probably something like an accountant or merchant banker. Here on business anyway, not pleasure. Single? Hard to say. Very guarded about his life. The scars? Most likely indulges in some stupid macho hobby like rock climbing or motor bike riding and got them that way. Nice. I'd take him home to meet the parents... After my girlfriends had given him the once over first, of course.
Something like that? Or am I over crediting myself?
Not that it matters.
You're right about the money, but that's all.
I doubt you'd believe the truth. Even if I were to tell you.
Which I'm not.
I suspect it would only disgust you. Not that I'd blame you or hold it against you. There are times that it disgusts me too. It's what I do, but it doesn't mean that sometimes I can't hate it. And I do. Hate it that is. Sometimes. I hate what it makes me do. I hate that there are times I feel like little more than a hired gun; a government sanctioned hit man. You'd have no idea what I'm capable of doing. Once you've had the mission statement 'success at all costs' driven into you, you can't fail. Death is the only acceptable excuse for failure.
And even that's frowned upon.
I'm not exaggerating.
I killed a man today. Well, a boy, really. Sixteen years old and equipped with the latest assault rifle. He wasn't old enough to drive, I doubt he was even shaving yet, but he could kill. Kill or be killed. It was either me or him. I had no choice. I pulled the trigger and took another life. A life that's now nothing but a statistic. Another drug war death, another kill mark in my own personal tally.
Intentionally, I'm losing count of how many people I've killed. I don't want to know. Their deaths may be for the greater good, but it doesn't help me feel any better about taking them. What an achievement. While other people can brag about making a profit for their company or landing a new client, I can state that the number of people I've killed is most likely nearing one hundred. Personally, I'd rather the profit.
For years I could remember every death, especially the first one. They haunted me. Their dead eyes staring at me, making me see everything I'd taken from them. Then, as I too lost, I became immune to their powers. Don't get me wrong, it's not tit for tat. I'm not that way inclined. While to say they deserve to die is too grand a declaration, they had all taken their fair share of lives before I took theirs.
I can't let them haunt me. I have too many ghosts of my own as it is.
You kiss me and you think I'm nice, but you don't know me. Assuming I know myself, which is not something I'm one hundred percent convinced of, the only other person who may be able to make that claim to fame is my partner. Perhaps. He's the only person I allow close to me anyway. Sam has his own ghosts. Maybe not as pronounced as mine, but they're there. I think we somehow counterbalance each other. Together, our ghosts rest. They leave us alone and, for a while, things are okay.
The ghosts mutate into demons.
If I lose Sam then I lose everything. I lose the only normal thing in my life. I lose any respite from the ghosts and any sense of inane happiness I'm able to attain. Without Sam I'd lose that last bit of humanity that I'm desperately clinging on to. Alone, I'd be the embodiment of a relentless, cold hearted killing machine. And I'd hate myself.
Everytime I'm threatened with this, losing Sam, I don't like the person I become. Success at all costs. I don't stop, literally, until I know he's safe. It makes me feel inhuman, but I do it. I couldn't not do it. Just as he couldn't not do it for me. We look out for each other. In this lifetime, we're all the other has.
It might seem strange to you, I can accept that, but it's better than nothing. A hell of a lot better. Sam's friendship means everything to me. I love him. Not in the true 'lovers' sense of the word, but he's all that I'm capable of loving. I'm sorry, but you're just one more in the long line of women who give me the one thing Sam can't. It sounds harsh, I know, and I apologise. In my opinion life would be a lot simpler without sex. But, seeing as it's here to stay, what can you do? Some nights the right hand just doesn't cut it and I crave the touch of another. I hope you understand. You're, momentarily, filling a void.
I almost wish I was gay. That way I'd never need anybody but Sam ('cos needless to say I'd wish he was gay too). But I'm, *we're*, not. Which is where, tonight at least, you come in. Again, sorry. I can't love you. To love you would be to allow my mask to slip and I can't do that. Besides, you wouldn't want to know the real me.
'Hi honey, I'm home. Sorry about the bloodstains. Yes, I know how hard they are to get out. Oh, don't worry about the black eye, it heals. As do the fractures and broken fingers. Give me a week or two and I'll be fine.'
I don't think so. Do you?
Once upon a time it wasn't like this. I loved and I was loved. My work came second. I was happy. Life seemed perfect and a wonderful future stretched out before us. A future that came to an abrupt bloody stop on...
... Aaron fucking Spelling couldn't do better than this...
... on our wedding day.
Don't ask me to describe it to you. I can't. It screens nearly every night in my dreams and I still wouldn't be able to put it successfully into words. On that day the sun ceased to shine, birds stopped singing and I knew that God didn't exist.
Now, while the sun occasionally peeps through the clouds, and I can hear the odd bird chirping, God still doesn't exist. At an extreme push, I have faith in Sam and perhaps myself. Nothing more.
With extreme prejudice.
It's not something you can just bounce back from. Nor is it something that all the fucking shrinks in the world will be able to cure me of. I smile at them, nod at their futile words of wisdom and dutifully perform all their pathetic little tests, but I don't listen to them. If I was going to freak out I'd do it whether they were behind me or not. But I'm not going to freak out. Success at all costs. I can't let Sam down.
It's not that I have too much to live for because, quite frankly, I don't. What I have however is a sense of purpose. If I died, who'd look out for not only Sam but all the other innocent people that we protect as well? Somehow, I'm needed. I kill, and I put myself through all kinds of hell so, basically, you don't ever have to know that either I or the evil doers (scum of the earth, whatever) exist. It could be said we're like modern day super heroes.
Only, and how, we're mortal. We bleed and we carry the scars with us always. I can't explain why we do what we do. We're not noble or seeking self righteous gratification from it. I could argue that as nobody was able to protect Teresa or our families, why should I put myself out to protect anyone else? But it doesn't work like that. I think it's a compulsion, we're propelled to do it. In this world there's the spectators and the participants, and we can't just sit by and watch.
Even when we're in pain, and full of despair for humanity, we can't just turn away. We'll do what we do until we die.
It's not a life I'd wish on anyone, but it's my life. It's not a life I can even share with someone, but it's my choice.
I have Sam and he makes it bearable. Ironically, of the two of us, he's considered the colder and more clinical. It's not true though. If I'm not worse than him than at least we're on par. I just hide it better than he does. I'm so good at hiding my true feelings that I could even plaster a believable smile on my face when being threatened with torture. People might think I'm happy-go-lucky, but it's nothing but an act. An act that the damn dimples play a part in. They make me look younger and cuter than I feel and I can't stop them. In a way I'm doomed to forever hide behind the protection of my dimples. They alone give me back a semblance of long lost innocence.
I suppose I should be thankful for them. If I looked like I feel then I doubt anyone would ever talk to me. You certainly wouldn't have smiled at me or invited me to share your bed.
Whoever you are.
You say your name's Lily and that you're in town for a meeting. Not that I really have choice in the matter, I believe you. I hope you don't feel compelled to hide yourself like I do. You seem nice and I wish you every happiness. I just can't offer it to you. Hollow though I know it is, I enjoyed our time together and I hope it was good for you.
Please don't be offended by the fact that I won't be here when you wake up. Or that you'll never see me again. Don't feel cheap. One of us feeling like that is enough. If it wouldn't offend you, I'd like to pay you. I won't though as it would be unacceptable behaviour. You gave yourself to me freely, but it doesn't exactly change the fact that I only wanted you for one thing. Then again, perhaps you only wanted me for that thing as well. Actually, you probably did. We gravitated together to fill a need, nothing more.
Look. It's been great, but I've got to go. Liking the feel of your soft skin next to mine, I don't particularly want to, but know I have to. By the time you wake up, Sam, yeah, he's in the motel as well, perhaps even with his own version of you, and I will be long gone. Our plane leaves before they even start serving breakfast.
I hope you have a wonderful life and kick ass at your meeting.
I also hope that you continue to life in blissful ignorance of the fact that there are people like Sam and I out there, fighting what we don't want you to know exists.
Trust me. You're better off that way.
In a way, I envy you.
Summary: No summary provided. Narrated by Chris. Self-beta'd.