Part One: Wallflower: White weighs up the consequences of destiny and duty, and makes a decision.
Wallflower's setting: Between MitM and Exposure.
you had all of them on your side, didn't you?
you believe in all your lies, didn't you?
the ruiner's got a lot to prove he's got nothing to lose and now he made you
the ruiner's your only friend well he's the living end to the cattle he
the raping of the innocent you know the ruiner ruins everything he sees
now the only pure thing left in my f**king world is wearing your disease.
(Ruiner by Nine Inch Nails)
The Ruiner Series: Wallflower
He watched her from across the street as she crossed the busy road. She arrived here at the same time everyday. You could set a clock by her predictability. He looked down at his wrist watch as she took her seat at the park bench. Yup. 11.45am. Blinking away the urge to roll his eyes, he glanced back to her - again. Like a moth to a flame. Chuckling at himself beneath his breath, he shook his head and stared absently into the sugar bowl before him. Could he get any cornier?
But it was true. As much as he tried to stop, to force himself to turn away, he felt drawn to her, unable to stop his eyes from wandering in her direction. If he really wanted to search within his conscience, he'd find that he didn't want to look away. This fixation with her was a despicable weakness. He knew that only too well. But he couldn't stop himself.
As the weeks stretched on, he found out little bit more of her character each day. More than he would ever have known otherwise, and this only served to feed his desire to reach out for her. He was good at analysing people. Or so he would like to think. But then, prior knowledge of her personality did give him an advantage.
She was an organised person, used to keeping schedules. The methodical manner in which she would arrive on time, arrange her lunch and check her watch to ensure she was keeping to programme, suggested that she endured a strict upbringing. Diligence was obviously infused into her very soul - from her mannerisms, to the clothing she wore. She was immaculate in her self-presentation. Almost uniform. Such consistency threatened to make her boring.
Hell, the woman was a wallflower. She was far too delicate. One could think the slightest wind would knock her over. Or so it would seem to those who didn't spend a lot of time studying her.
Would he have even noticed such things if they were in different circumstances? He knew the answer to that question, and it filled him with an ever so subtle ache of regret. What was the point in regret now? If he were a different person he could cross that street and sit down beside her. If he were a different person, he'd have her in his pocket. But unfortunately, that wasn't their destiny.
And it all boiled down to destiny in the end.
The very first time he stumbled upon this cafeteria with it's moderately tolerable meatloaf sandwiches, he had noticed her across the street. She had caught his eye, just for a moment, and smiled. It was so damn long ago now. More years than he cared to remember. Somehow, that small fragment in time had gone and got itself stuck inside his head. He had relived it every day since. Except, not that smile. Not again.
For a long time she had stopped coming to this park bench, and he had stopped coming to this cafeteria. There had no longer been any need to try and catch her eye from across the road. But times changed. As they tend to do. And the world started falling apart.
Not so long ago, he had thought that he would never see her again. It would have been better that way. But it seemed forces were intent on drawing them together one way or another.
Who was he kidding? And what did he care anyway? She was one of them. The weak, the pitifully weak. Destined to drop like a fly - just like the all the rest. And would he care? Hell no. He was better than that. Better than her. Better than all of them.
It was the law of nature.
And at the end of the day, he was simply better off not giving a shit about her. It was pointless forming any kind of attachment for the weak. That piece of advice had been ingrained into his mind when he was a kid. By his own father no less. What a joke. The old man would've been better off taking his own medicine instead of trying to preach ethics to those too emotionless to need teaching. That was himself - emotionless. His heart cold and dead within his chest. Metaphorically speaking anyway.
But truth be told, it wasn't the meatloaf sandwiches that drew him here. Of course, he'd tell himself that it was, and anyone else who was listening. But those damn sandwiches were bland and tasteless as dirt. Like everything else that surrounded him really. Everything but her.
Gods, she was what drew him here, wasn't she? She was the only thing he knew to be different in this world. Predictability aside, that is.
Scratch the surface and what do you find underneath...
The only thing that seemed to change about her was the various emotions that crossed her face as she lost herself in thought. Watching her was like watching an old home video play out, once she let herself slip into memories of the past.
Most days her expression was downcast and mournful. But on rare occasions a smile would break into her despondency and cause her whole entire being to change - to lighten. And he would find himself smiling with her, guessing what it was that granted her mind a moment of peace.
He could remember the days when she used to wear a smile everyday. But he knew her grief, and he couldn't blame her for finding little left in the world to be happy about. So many times he wanted to reach out to her and tell her... But she'd only strike him away, and never return to this place. It was too late now to try and make amends anyway.
She tried to control her emotions, and pretend that nothing was wrong. But he could tell when it was just a farce. He knew all too well what it was like to be a much different person beneath the carefully applied mask. In that sense, if no other, they had a lot in common.
As he sat in the booth watching her through the grimy window of the cafeteria, he thought back to the life he had once led. Or rather, the lie. Back in the days when he had someone. A wife. A family. A make-believe career as an ad-executive for a company which didn't exist.
It had been hard leading a double life - tucking that dark little part of him out of sight and out of mind every time he'd walked through the front door and back into 'home sweet home'. He wasn't stupid, he knew that if his wife ever found out who he really was behind the facade, she would leave him. And he didn't want that. He didn't want to have to kill her. And so he continued to live the lie. For the sake of keeping the peace. For the sake of keeping her. He had loved her, after all. In his own messed up little way.
He was a good and loving man when he was at home with his wife and son - when his Hyde personality wasn't coming out to play. Rather, he had been a good man. Once upon a time, before his father led him to hate, and duty led him to kill. He always blamed his father and duty when the dirt of his lies began to tarnish that fragment of something within him that could almost be described as a guilty conscience. They were failsafe excuses.
And he couldn't help it if he had to follow destiny.
He'd tried to keep his darker half under control, to pretend it only existed between the hours of nine to five. But, it seeped through. Of course it would. The darkness was a part of him. The real him. He wasn't supposed to have fallen in love with his wife. It wasn't part of the plan. But damn if it wasn't lonely living in the shadows of destiny sometimes.
It wasn't his fault that their world started to break apart. She was the ruiner. Not he. Because of her, his carefully constructed lie crumbled beneath him, leaving him totally exposed - like the fairytale in which the emperor discovers his clothes are made purely out of thin air, and everyone can see what lies beneath...
It was his wife's fault. She ruined everything. He had the perfect plan, but she dug too deep. She discovered the dark parts of him that he never ever wanted her to see. Destiny suddenly teetered on shaky ground.
He had a destiny to fulfil.
And destiny always, always came first.
He closed his eyes at the memory of her horrified, hurt expression, once she'd found out what he was. Damn her! If she had only let it go... It was ironic that the very strength he admired in her, that he loved in her, had led to her downfall. She just had to keep pushing... So many times he had wished he could tell her, and make her understand. But she'd never understand his carefully woven web of lies. She'd never understand that he'd been trying to protect her, to shield her from following the fate of those who had unwittingly taken up her mantle throughout the generations.
But in the end, he couldn't help her to escape fate that fate after all.
Or could he?
Shaking his head to clear his mind, he looked down at his watch. He had to live in the present. Not the past. What was another cold night spent alone in an empty house? What was the point in coming here and trying to recreate something that was in the end, just a facade? There was nothing good in him. What was the use in trying to pretend otherwise?
Perhaps she had managed to bring out a benevolent side to him once, but she was out of his reach now. There was no reason for him to wear that Jekyll mask anymore. No need to bring home flowers when only an empty house sat waiting to receive them.
"Sir. Here's your sandwich and coffee."
Breaking from his thoughts at last, Ames White turned to his NSA partner, his expression revealing none of his thoughts as he flashed a cold, empty smile. "I've got a better idea Otto."
He glanced out of the window and towards the woman for a final time. She still sat at the bench, carefully eating a salad roll. A smile hovered on the edge of his lips at the sight of her, but he chocked it back down, hardening his expression once more as he turned back to the man who stood awaiting his command.
"I think it's time we find ourselves a new lunch bar. I've never liked the sandwiches here."
Looking away from Otto's perplexed stare, White grabbed his coat and headed towards the door. It was time to move on. There was so much more at stake than the life of a single wallflower.
Existence amounted to the survival of the fittest after all.