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by: Matthew Cox
June 5,
Basement Level Bravo, Interview Room C

How the hell had this happened? Matt stared blankly at the steel tabletop where his hands were bound in thick manacles to the surface. The steel bracelets seemed to be hastily cobbled together. Rough welds ran up the two inch long cuffs that sported not one, but two locking mechanisms. The chain connecting the two bracers was thicker than the average police bracelet as well. They really had prepped for him, hadn't they?

The collapsed looking man was more coiled than he was broken. In the standard prison uniform of grey sweat pants and sweatshirt, Matt didn't look nearly as dangerous as he had in the black and red leather armor of the Devil. He'd refused to talk to anyone, acting as if he hadn't been able to hear them. The only reactions he'd had were to the department issued ultra high frequency self defense devices he'd inspired. The colloquially named 'squealer' caused intense pain to his delicate hearing, disrupted his radar sense, and made him nauseated. God, he hated those things.

His fists slowly clenched as he replayed the night. He and Cora had stumbled into an MI:5 sting that they'd been told was a rebel group trying to get information on magical families. When they'd attempted to break up the meeting, they realized the truth and had been surrounded. Matt refused to fight his former brothers and sisters in arms. Surprisingly, Cora had gone along with him. Both had their gear confiscated, their rights read, and been given cells in the agency's headquarters. Matt had been taken to this steel box of an interrogation room and left. A parade of agents had come in to talk at him, but Matt wasn't going to play. What must they think of him, presenting a blank and expressionless wall like he was? The door opened once more. Matt didn't move. He didn't need to turn his head to see with his radar sense. Cole. Great.
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by: Cole Callaway
It had been about a month since he'd seen Matt in his apartment, and he didn't think that among the criminals there that night, that he would be arresting his own man.

Yes, it had been a month since he'd seen Agent Matt Cox. It was the day he broke Katarina's heart. The day he left with quotes from a poem, Enfant Perdu by Heine, Tolkien...struggling to talk to him, as if he was somehow forced not to. It somewhat corroborated with what Orion was saying. During his processing when they first detained Matt, he seemed out of it, as if he wasn't himself, though he offered little in the way of words to his fellow agents. Was this just an act? A side-effect of the squealer they used to take him down? At one point, Matt could easily tell him what he had for breakfast and now he was arrested for impeding an investigation and endangering lives, like the two agents he put in the hospital?

"He's been like this since he got in." Geoffrey said, somewhere behind him, confirming what was already told to him outside. "Hasn't said a word."

The senior agent sighed, as this case weighed heavily on his heart. What the hell had come over his friend and colleague? What the hell was the matter with him, to have interfered with the operation--and with that woman? The witch? He'd been advised to go see Matt first, so he stayed away from her cell, in hopes to get answers from their former agent first. Why Why Why? He kept wondering, but Cole knew he needed to save all of these questions for interrogation, which was the next room over. He shuffled the paperwork into a small folder and pressed it closed, giving one last glance at Geoffrey before making his way into the room with the shackled man. The question was, who would he be talking to today? Matthew Cox? or the Devil?

Or would he be either of those, at all?

His boot falls were heavy against the floor, and he took careful steps until he got to his chair and the metal legs scraped along the bottom, a chorus of squeals and squeals with a percussive slam and whoosh of the papers hitting the table filled the room. He sat directly across from Matt and folded his hands over the file. He studied him a bit, searching for his eyes he was sure he wouldn't make contact with, but he knew Matt was already aware of his presence, if he remembered him at all.

"A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship." It was a cold open, something he'd been waiting to say to Matt since he last saw him all those weeks ago. Cole didn't need to say his name, because he was sure Matt would pick up on his voice and the words that came from him. Another Tolkien quote, right back at him...fitting for the occasion, and fitting for the man. He strayed from the team. He was a vigilante. but he was still a comrade.
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by: Matthew Cox
Through the entire entrance, Matt stayed still and within himself, not breathing differently or indicating that he'd heard Cole. Was it shame that drove him to stay withdrawn? Defensiveness? Pure stubbornness? If Matt had to name an emotion, it would have been fear. What was going to happen to him? He was a traitor, unintentionally or intentionally he didn't know. God, he didn't know. So, rather than answer the accusations other agents had thrown at him, he'd stayed curled up within himself, staying passive and withdrawn.

Cole knew him better than the other Hounds that had come in to bark at him. In fact, Cole led with a line, familiar and old. Strider's words to Frodo in an attempt to gain his trust. Matt twitched ever so slightly, an indication at his recognition of the words. He spoke finally, the words sounding low and far away.

"...and would you, like Aragorn, pledge by your life or death to save me, if you could?"

It was ill fated. The Dunedain and the Ring-Bearer wound up getting split, going their separate ways through the epic story. Was Matt the ring-bearer, the keeper of a secret that was a burden and lethal just to touch? So it seemed, so it seemed. He needed a Sam, not an Aragorn. But he held no illusion that there was no happy ending at the end of this hallway for him. He was arrested for treason, vigilantism, and who knew what else.

He deserved it.

That thought kept jack hammering around his thoughts. He deserved this. Secret keeping was a seed that grew a dark and thorny tree that bore bitter fruit. Such as it was, Matt was willing to submit to whatever was put to him for justice.
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by: Cole Callaway
"I pledge my life to the people and to save those who need saving." That would forever be his answer. Taking sides, that wasn't him. He was doing duty, his job, the reason why he took up the shield in first place, to protect and serve. Granted, circumstances were a little stranger now that he was with Paranormal Division, but that general concept would always be the same.
"Those who want to be saved." Cole took one long look at Matt before finally moving again, and he unfolded his hands to open up the file on the table. The paperwork would remain unseen by the blind vigilante, but he laid them out accordingly, so he could reference each point as they went along. Once he was finished, he sat back, leaning farther into the rest until he was comfortable in his seat. Cole folded his hands together again over his stomach as he stared at his friend with a blank expression, but his heart was racing, and his mind racing alongside it...he knew Matt could sense all of that.

"Matthew Cox. Former Military. Former Agent...One hundred percent vigilante." Cole rarely had a prelude with such grandeur, but the fact that two agents were critical, Rex Swenson and Tava Bashar, and others with mild injuries at the hand of his former colleague, he needed something of a grand gesture to let his friend know what sort of boiling water they were both sitting in. It was a tough situation to be had by both parties, and Matt had to understand he didn't like any bit of this whatsoever. "Two of our men are down. Two agents, critical. Now I don't know what the hell happened, and I'm sure you're farther from telling me now than you were before, but I'm just going to tell you now that if you just kept your eyes up, they wouldn't be at St. Thomas right now, fighting for their lives." The injuries they sustained were told to him in general detail, but words like compound fracture, sprain and trauma to the abdomen was enough for him to understand that they were hospitalized for a reason. He tried to not let his emotions show too much in his voice or on his face, but Cole didn't change his expression from the blank one he wore since he'd walked in.

"What were you doing there, Cox?" Simple question. He could answer that one, right? "What the hell were you doing out there..."
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by: Matthew Cox
Blah, blah, blah...vigilante, soldier, agent...what did it matter what he was anymore? Prisoner should be in that list. Traitor, fuck up, slave...well, strike that last one. Cora kept insisting he wasn't a slave, but damn that collar still chafed sometimes...

...if you'd have just kept your eyes up...

That phrasing from his past cut through the defensive inner monologue Matt was indulging himself with. He sat back with a start, reacting to Sergeant Graves' phrasing coming from Agent Callaway's mouth. Matt's eyebrows dropped at the turn of phrase, displaying his recognition and confusion at the words. Cole went on, though, asking him why he had been there. He could answer that, probably.

"Have you ever read 'Charge of the Light Brigade'? Same thing happened. Someone gave intel about breaking up a human trafficking ring, but they blundered. Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred..."

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward. Matt felt the pressure of scrutiny with cannons to the left and cannons to the right and cannons in front. Still would he charge with saber drawn? Probably not. He could answer some of the questions without triggering the curse, so he would.
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by: Cole Callaway
A reaction? And to his brothers words? ...never mind.

It was a common phrase, just words he had heard over and over from Don. When things were down, when he screwed up in Academy, when he first met Veronika, when he was just having a terrible day, Don was there to tell him to keep his eyes up. It was another way of saying stay alert, even in times of sadness, and to never let his guard down. That's how things felt here, like he had forgotten Donovan's words of wisdom and let his guard down around Agent Cox.

Matt found his voice finally, but it made Callaway narrow his eyes in frustration. " That's your takeaway? Two of our own brothers are critical, and you want to throw more quotes at me? What are you then, some sort of lit major now?" Cole scoffed and shook his head. Maybe it was a bad idea sending him in here. Maybe he should have told Jones that he had known Matt's identity sooner, and it would be Holmes or one of his minions down here instead of him. The truth was, he could hardly stand to look at Matt right now, even in this vulnerable state, but he forced him to, for the sake of the job and his orders.

"Look, I let you go that day in hopes that you would get straight. Stay some secret hero in the shadows or whatever the hell it is you're doing. This...this, ambush, this strange resolve or attitude you have going on... I don't know if there's anything we can do for you." Cole sighed, "Unless you start giving me some straight answers that I can work with."

The only thing standing between Matt and the firing squad and hell Jones or Holmes or the head of agency would unleash upon his old colleague, was Cole. He would do well to reveal that at some point, but he held that card like an ace in the sleeve for use later, but he wanted to see what Matt had to say for now.
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by: Matthew Cox
Matt sighed and let his head fall back in a familiar gesture of frustration. How did he tell Cole that all he had left to keep from being a screaming mess at the moment was the poetry he dove into in times of stress?

Ours was not to reason why, ours was but to do and die...

Ugh. The reference he had in his mind was his anchor. If he spouted THAT out, then no doubt he'd be labeled crazy. And he was, wasn't he? He'd savagely attacked and hospitalized good men, undeserving men who had just been doing their jobs.

Matt's fists unclenched and clenched again; his head dropped back to level, the unseeing gaze focused off center on Cole.

"We take our life rafts where we can when we're drowning. That just happens to be mine. I'll refrain in the future. But to answer your question directly," There was so much tension in the word. So much stress and pain...Matt could only bear so much and he had a load in his shoulders already from the curse and his conflicted feelings about Cora.

"we were given bad intelligence. I saw what I expected to see and acted accordingly, not realizing until it was too late what I'd leaped into."

That truthful answer would get him killed for treason, Matt figured. Pow, bullet between the eyes. Or would they go with he lethal injection? He'd have to tell them to double the dose if they wanted to overcome his healing factor.

The detached way he considered his execution told Matt more about his stress load than he'd realized. He'd not wanted to kill himself thanks to the curse, but his own death was going to be inevitable at this rate.
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by: Cole Callaway
Cole realized he had struck a nerve with Matt just as Matt had struck one of his own. He didn't mean to sound like a complete asshole in shutting him down over the mere mention of quotes, but he just asked questions that required simple answers and researching books and context and quotes? He expected that from other cons and cunning criminals, serial killers and the like, with brains like jigsaw puzzles he would have to assemble on his own. Was that what Matt wanted? Cole had to relax a second and go back in mildly, instead of the hot headed aggressor he told himself he wouldn't be, when he was handed this case.

"If...if that's what you need to to to say it then...anything at all, then fine." Some answer was better than none and he had to respect a person's method of stress handling, and anything he was unfamiliar with, he would have Geoffrey help him with later. Still, he didn't apologize for his outburst. It was frustrating to have to get the go-around, but for Matt's sake, if that was the only way he would get a response, Cole knew he had to take it.

But then he said...we.

"We...so, the woman, right?" It was an assumption, but one that wasn't too far off since they had been caught together. Now that was something, a small thread he had to pull on, or perhaps tug on, to unravel. "What is her name?" Cole knew her name, but he wanted to hear it from Matt. Not entrapment per se, just curiosity.
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by: Matthew Cox
Cole's concession to his stress reliever melted some of the tension in Matt's stance. The agent was trying, Matt understood, to relate and find out a reason why things turned out the way they did. If that WERE the case, then he came to the wrong person. Matt was just a pawn in this game, about to be taken off the board completely.

Cole caught the 'we.' Matt wasn't sure if he was glad to have given the agent a lead or upset over the fact that the next question slammed him against the imperius curse.

"I can't tell you."

The answer left his mouth automatically. Matt's flat expression twisted over the words like they were bitter. He'd not run up against the curse in several weeks now. No, he'd been conditioned to be a good little pet, hadn't he? A light tremor ran through him at the horror of that which he was still refusing to face. The chains on his manacles jingled with the shudder of fear and dread, betraying his emotions. Yes, he'd been not only cursed but brainwashed. Or had he? He didn't know. Fuck, he didn't know...
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by: Cole Callaway
The paper he'd been holding started to crinkle in his grasp, as he didn't realize he'd closed his fist so tightly around it when Matt refused to answer. Or rather, he answered...by not answering. He can't...HE CAN'T TELL ME? Can't? or...Won't? Even taking that into consideration, anger flickered in Cole's eyes as they lightly twitched, just once, just frustrated beyond everything. Decoding and deciphering might have been a part of his job description, but he just wanted this to go smoothly. However, like the many things in his life, nothing was easy. Nothing came for free. Breaking Matt out of this mode was going to be one hell of a task.

Cole opened his hand and let the papers he'd gathered fall to the table. He sighed. Heavily, at that, something he usually did when the morning coffee tasted like rot, or when his computer froze because of excessive tabs on his computer...he didn't want to have to sigh like this at someone he considered a friend and teammate. He ran his hand through his hair and then back down over his face, feeling the scratch of the sandpaper scruff. He badly needed a shave. He needed a drink, too. But those two things were light years away from being within reach, with the rate this conversation was going. "Coraline Larson. Her name...is Coraline. Larson." He answered for him, waiting a beat to check for any sort of reaction to that.

"Not much of a record here, but over there? Well, I hear your Bonnie has quite the reputation, Clyde." He made a reference to the infamous American duo. What he'd read about the woman's record (which was documented quite differently in the 'Wizarding World'), was startling, but he wanted to see if Matt would offer anything in the way of that information. Given his current status, of not being willing to speak up, meant that was not likely...but still, Cole waited. He had all day, unfortunately.
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by: Matthew Cox
A flinch, not from her name but from Cole's anger, pulled Matt back from the table. Once, he'd met anger with anger. Once, he'd have scoffed and said something sarcastic. Now, he was too conditioned to treading lightly. Cole was asking for information he simply COULD NOT give. Oh, if he had a choice he'd have told his fellow agent and former friend- because after this, who would want to be associated with him?- everything, gleefully pushed the button that launched a bunker buster bomb into the warehouse, and danced in the smoldering ruins.

But there were questions, even in his own mind, that he couldn't answer. Did he really want to be away from Cora? Even now, with Cole calling her Coraline, Matt's instinct was to correct him in that she hated being called that, and it was just Cora. He wanted to tell Cole about the way that there seemed to be two of her, the one that reveled in combat that terrified him, the one that was gentle that he adored.

Ugh. And he did adore that one, the one who curled up and read silently in the library, who smelled of gardening soil, who had been terrified of his suicide attempt, who was honestly regretful about the hell she put him through...

But he hated her dark twin, the one who tortured him, who had captured rather than killed him, who refused to let him go, who enjoyed killing.

Was he any different? Matt and the Devil, Cora and the Dark Lady...maybe they were a Bonnie and Clyde pair and this was the shootout.

"They both died. In the end. Bonnie and Clyde?"

He'd answer what he could. Matt spoke softly, a tinge of fear in his broken words as he dropped his face in concession to the fact that he knew this wasn't what Cole wanted from him.

"I don't...I don't want that. I don't want to die."

That confession was a soft whisper, pleading for help.
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by: Cole Callaway
"That's not what I was insinuating, mate." Cole growled.

The frustration was imminent, but the reference was a bit of a test. He noticed he could say names, certain things, but not ones directly to, or pertaining to his whereabouts and the woman involved, which made him even more curious. "We can't kill you. We won't kill you. There's a difference in those two and we're having one hell of a time going around with that, innit. You told me that before: You can't. Won't is a matter of knowing something and refusing. Can't...well, something seems to have gotten your tongue, innit." Cole narrowed his eyes as he stared across the table from him.

But his statement when he said he didn't want to die struck him as odd. Cole's eyes flickered over Matt's wrists, unable to forget that day he saw the scars, remnants of a time he had given up and tried to find the 'easy way out'. That image haunted Cole, even to this day. "Hm." He huffed. "All we need from you is your cooperation, mate. Tell us what you know. Tell us what the hell you were doing, aligning yourself with this woman. Anything else of value is like extra credit. The more I have, the more I'll be able to work with, and you'll out of this room in no time."

Matt would see right through that, surely. But it was just a matter of trying to keep the prisoner at ease.
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by: Matthew Cox
Cole seemed to be starting to get it. Matt sagged forward slightly in relief when Cole iterated the difference between 'can't' and 'won't'. A scoff and ghostly smirk revived Matt's face into something more familiar than the withdrawn shell he had been imitating.

"First you accuse me of being a Lit major and then you give me a diction lesson. I know firmly the difference between the two. 'Won't' implies free will."

The curse slapped him down for that on-the-edge slip. The marine pales visibly and broke out in a sweat with the clawing, burning pain in his head, but he didn't wince or cry out.

"There is a very good reason I didn't quote Invictus...Nothing in it pertains to me."

He panted with the effort to endure the pain, clearly agonizing until the storm passed. He was left cowed, quieted, and loose from the tension.

Matt's head turned, focusing on the door seconds before a knock sounded out.
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by: Orion Burgess
So much for sleeping...Orion had responded to the emergency beep that he'd gotten in his pager. Seconds later, a text message activating all units to headquarters defense came through in his department issued phone.

Merlin, he loved that device. He could 'google' any information he'd needed about the muggle world. And Wikipedia? Beautiful.

The job tonight was dealing with the fallout from the Devil and his consort. Both were familiar to Orion. One was Matthew Cox, behaving oddly. The other was Coraline Larson. She was a nasty piece of work...she'd nearly stabbed him once, Orion remembered. And she'd been at his Death Eater initiation. That was the rub...did he let her know he was alive and well when all the wizarding world thought him dead, or did he let inexperienced muggles deal with the dangerous Dark Lady? Orion split the difference and stuck with Geoffrey in the tech pit. Their current assignment, from Cole, was to research the nonsense that Matt had been spouting from poems.

There were three: Enfant Perdu, Charge of the Light Brigade, and now Invictus.. As he read the text of the newest reference, it clicked for Orion.

"Merlin...I get it. I GET IT!"

"Great, kid, next time don't yell!"

Orion heard the instructions from Geoff as he ran for the interrogation room. Cole needed to know.

Once at the door, Orion knocked quickly and then conjured a cup of the French vanilla coffee he'd been making for Cole.
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by: Cole Callaway
Cole left it at that and even though he'd been bombarded by a bit of Matt's sour attitude, he sat there in silence. His fingers tapped out a rhythm of a song that'd been stuck in his head for the last few days, the lingering melody haunting his thoughts as he struggled to focus in the room right now. What sort of game was he playing? This was Matt...A man with everything to lose, keeping his lips sealed for the sake of some strange woman from the 'other side'? It didn't make any sense to Cole. How did he meet her, first of all, and what the hell did she do to him. Two very important thoughts, ones he thought to voice before there were a couple of soft raps on the door behind him.

The senior agent narrowed his hazel eyes and brought them up to the one-way to his left, knowing very well that Geoffrey had to have been observing, and wondered if that was him, Perhaps it'd been Jones, set to pull him from the interrogation and she'd take over. Or even worse, IA? Patterson, was it? He sighed. Klaus, Katarina, Lex--there was a long list of visitors that could have come around to relive him, but this was an exclusive interview, one that meant very few were privy to the knowledge that Matt was here. So who the hell was it then? He wished he'd been given a heads up but they were on a strict no earpieces rule. Matt's senses could pick up on shit like that, so Cole didn't want this super-powered vigilante guy--who'd apparently popped right out of the comics--to know his every move.

Without another word, Agent Callaway gathered his file, tucked it away, scooted his chair back (which was loud and earpiercing), and he dismissed himself from the room. He tugged the door back with the most irritable expression but his face fell into surprise when he saw the kid standing there, a hot up of what smelled like French vanilla roast in his hands, and he sighed again. The door needed to be closed so he slipped out and let the door latch shut before he said anything. "I'm kinda in the middle of something, here. What is it?" He'd tried not to sound like a jerk to Orion, but even if this was Director Holmes he would have reacted the same way. Being interrupted just took him out of the moment.


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