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Part 5

"No! Damien, don't!" Bob cried desperately at him, but locking stares with Dot instead of Damien. She looked so pale, almost white, and Bob noticed the bonds around her legs prevented her from being able to stand properly. Bob didn't look much better. He hadn't slept at all since the night before he found the diner in a mess, now almost 48 micros earlier. The only vague relief Bob found from this situation was that Dot was wearing her thick leather body armour. He just hoped it had minimised the extent of her injuries while his 'old acquaintance' had kept her there.

"Bob! It's good to see you again, Blue-boy!" Damien greeted him, deliberately using the old nickname to make Bob cringe.

Bob pointedly ignored him, trying to understand what Dot was trying to tell him without provoking Damien any further. He had noticed the way she tried to pull against the restraints behind her back, every couple of nanos a flicker of pain crossed her face as either the knife or the wire dug into her skin. She was trying to mouth a message to him at the same time, her lips forming the same word over and over, which he guessed was 'trap'.

Trap? This was a trap? He didn't care if it was or not. It didn't make any difference to him, he just knew he had to get them both out of this intact- or he'd never forgive himself.

Her eyes darted from left to right as she mouthed "Go!" Forget both of them getting out intact, Bob corrected himself mentally, he just wanted Dot out of this mess safely, and she wanted him to 'go'?

'You seriously think I'm leaving you alone with this guy again? It's not going to happen,' Bob thought as he stared at her defiantly. After all, he knew what Damien was capable of, and from the rather more vivid memories of the Academy, he knew that he wasn't going to let Dot unintentionally become like the others...




Dot felt her aching limbs throb painfully, her legs almost collapsing under her. Damien pulled her up straight again roughly, uncaring about her discomfort. As he did so he noticed Bob step forward offensively, breaking eye contact with Dot to glare at him. Damien smirked at him and then kissed the side of Dot's face tenderly, gleefully watching for Bob's reaction. The action provoked Dot, the knife still at her throat, to jerk away dangerously, and a furious response from Bob.

"Don't touch her Damien! Leave her alone!"

"Did I hit a raw nerve there, Bob?"

"Just leave her alone." Bob repeated in a low voice.

"So how come you're so attached to this one then huh? Bit different from the ones at the Academy, isn't she?" Damien grasped a handful of her hair and pulled her head back as she threatened to collapse again, causing her to cry out angrily.

"Damien!" Bob cried out with his own anger, moving forward but barely realising it.

"Watch it there, Bob." Damien warned, pulling Dot back a few steps. "Wouldn't want the knife to slip now, would we?"

"What do you want?" Bob asked, wishing he could get close enough.

"Well I'm pretty sure your deletion was in the plan somewhere - but I don't make the plans."

"Will you let Dot go if I stay here?" Bob asked, his attempt at a bargain - which he had no intention of sticking to, provoked nothing but a laugh from Damien.

"You think I'd be basic enough to strike a deal? With you? Anyway, now I've gotten used to the stubbornness -" he jerked her head back painfully again with a fistful of her hair, exposing the full length of her neck to the shrp blade. "- I kind've like her."

"Quit with the games Damien. What do I have to do to get Dot out of this?"

"That's down to the boss -"

"Who's 'the boss'?"

"An old friend of yours shall we say. He'll be making an appearance soon," Damien answered cryptically.

"Another 'old friend'? To put a cliche to good use Damien, with friends like you, who needs enemies?"

"I think you're forgetting who has the upper-hand here, Bob."

"Will you at least put the knife down?" He pressed on, the urge to tear this guy apart was beginning to overwehlm him, making it a struggle to keep the fury out of his voice. Something that wasn't entirely surprising, although it didn't make him feel any better, was the fact that Damien didn't seem to be infected, so had his own mind about what he was doing. Bob repressed a shudder at the realisation, searching again for a way to tackle him without endangering Dot. "Or let her sit down, she can't even stand up like that."

Dot was trying desperatly to to move her wrists enough so she could elbow Damien and hopefully get away. Thankfully the initial fear when Damien had pulled the knife had been replaced with anger, heightened by the growing feeling of being treated like a rag-doll by both men in the room, which sufficed to annoy her more.

"You wanna sit down, baby?" Damien was smiling at her cruelly again, jerking her head back a third time. Ignoring the almost unbearable pain of the too-tight wire, Dot finally managed to cross her wrists and awkwardly send both arms backwards in a burst of strength.

More from surprise than injury, Damien reeled back slightly, giving Dot enough time to push herself sideways, out of his grasp. Damien had immeadiatly realised his mistake, grabbing for her again, the knife slicing through her armour and to her shoulder. She fell painfully on her other shoulder, seeing a flash of light soar across the room as Bob sent an energy beam from his hands. But instead of the powerful blast sending Damien to the far wall, it disappeared into his black-covered chest, lighting up orange as the energy spread through his body.

"It can't be..." Dot gasped, wide-eyed.

Bob didn't let it startle him enough to let down his guard, using brute force instead of energy as he shoved Damien back the last couple of feet to the wall. Damien made good use of the absorbed energy as he promptly punched Bob in the stomach. Bob sent back a few blows of his own, thankful he could vent his anger. Insults and jabs were exchanged simultaniously to the fighting, some of which Dot didn't understand because they were about the Academy. Just as Bob sent a stinging backhand across Damien's face which sent him to the floor, Dot heard the shouts from outside, one of which she was sure belonged to Mouse. Apperently Damien had heard it as well, as she saw him get up and hit Bob in the face, then say;

"You know how I hate crowds." And disappear.

Bob stared in front of him for a nano and then shook his head as if telling himself he couldn't have seen that.

It took about three strides to cross the room, and by that time all fury at Damien on his face was replaced with deep concern as he kneeled to hug her tightly. They sat in a consoling silence for a while, until Bob pulled back and Dot saw the harsh red bruise beginning to form on his cheek.

"You're hurt," she told him quietly. He shook his head and pulled her to him again. Suddenly Dot couldn't stand the sharp pain in her wrists any longer, but didn't want him to let go.

" arms..." Dot whispered after what seemed like micros in his safe embrace. Bob pulled back and stared at her as though he didn't understand what she had said. He shook his head slightly to clear his thoughts, but the distant look was still in his eyes.

Now kneeling on the floor next to her, Bob grasped her wrists gently, trying to ignore how deep the cuts were. Using a tiny amount of red hot energy from one finger, he cut straight through the wire and pulled the remains away carefully. Bob did the same with her ankles, although injury was minimal thanks to the thick boots and armour.

"Bob, are you okay?" Dot asked quietly, concerned that he seemed to be in a trance. Bob stared at her again, then placed his hands on her face tenderly.

"I thought I'd lost you again." He whispered, looking deeply into her eyes like he wasn't sure if she was really there. Bob leaned forward and kissed her softly, still unsure if it was real, but suddenly snapped out of it, needing to know what Damien had done to her.

"Dot, did he hurt you? Did he touch you?" He asked urgently, his hands still on her face, gently stroking away her dark hair from her eyes.

Dot didn't reply, only clung to him tighter,the shock beginning to set in now. Her wrists and ankles ached, still feeling strange to be able to move freely. She buried her head in his chest, a desperate, panicky feeling settling over her.

"Let's get you out of here," Bob said gently, helping her to stand, slowly. He noticed immeadiatly that she was shaking all over, whether from cold or shock or something else, he wasn't sure. Maybe all three. Bob interlaced his fingers through hers, smiling warmly.

"How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine." Came the shaky reply as she tried to calm the trembling in her legs.

"Will you be okay to walk?"

Dot nodded, eager to get out of the room, but as soon as she moved a wave of dizziness overcame her. Grabbing hold of Bob's arm with both hands to steady herself, she kept still and waited for it to pass.

"Dot, you've just gone ten shades paler! What's -"

"No, I'm okay. Just a bit dizzy for a nano there, that's all."

"If you're sure..."

"I want to get away from here. Please, can we just go?"

Bob considered carrying her, but knew that Dot wouldn't let him, so carefully led her out the door, into the ally outside. Dot was watching the ground, stepping tentitivly and had her left hand entertwined with Bob's right, as well as holding his arm with her other hand for support. The trembling was getting no better and it seemed so cold outside...

"Dot honey!" Mouse shouted in delighted surprise from a couple of buildings up the ally. "Are ya hurt? What happened?"

"It's okay, Mouse. We can sort it out later. Can you call all the -" Bob began to instruct her, but stopped when Dot's hand tightened on his arm. "You need a doctor, Dot. I'll take you to the P.O., okay?"

Dot shook her head. "Not the infirmary. I'm okay. I just need to lie down."

"Ah'm glad ta see ya sugah. Ah'll call Matrix and AndrAIa, and you get some rest at home," Mouse told her gently, emphasizing the last part for Bob's benefit and an 'I'll explain later' look answered his puzzled expression. She gained a weak smile from Dot in reply as she turned to sort out the search teams.

"You want to go home? Or my place?" Bob asked her softly, secretly against taking her back to her apartment in case she insisted on being alone.

"Not mine. Yours- safer- it's-" Dot closed her eyes and gripped Bob's arm tightly to stop herself pitching forward.

"It's okay, it's okay. I'll take you back to-"

"Bob- can't stay- awake- its so cold..." Her broken words trailed off as her eyes closed again and she fell. Warm, painfree unconscious taking ahold of her...

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