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Xenon

Chapter Text

The pale skin of the girl seems even paler in the blue neon lighting. The sun no longer shines, all that illuminates the too filled cities is neon. All she knows is blue, pink and purple. The smog that clouds the earth not much unlike their neighbor planet’s thick clouds. The only difference is that humanity found a way to preserve oxygen.

There no longer is life outside the cities. Humans born into this era only know of flowers because of historic documentations. Concrete is all that is left now. Buildings tower up to the sky, so all that is left of humanity can fit within the small livable squares they still have.

Cities never are silent and the buzzing of neon is not to be escaped. Cynical as she is, she blesses the deaf and blind. The less you have to see or hear of this world the better.

The streets are lighted, but empty. There is a curfew, the only ones who are allowed to be outside at this hour are the ones who keep the city ‘safe’.  Safety became another word for controlled. For humanity to keep on living it had to give up all that there was to give; freedom.

In this world of bright colours and grand buildings, there is no room for self-expression. Not in public anyway.

Mallory is wearing a long grey coat, zipped up all the way to her throat. Her hair is hidden in the bun all ladies are permitted to wear.

The echoes of her steps mixed up with the buzzing of the neon create a forbidden sound. She is facing death by going outside at this hour. But Mallory is not one to be oppressed. Where she is going is the only place where she can be herself.

They control everything, nothing but her thoughts are her own. All Mallory wants is to fight back.

She needs to hide in a dark alley when she spots the two so called ‘Nighters’.  Creatures who are even more controlled by the government than she is.

Their eyes are glowing and red. It’s modelled after the cameras of the past who used to have the same light on whenever it recorded.

Mallory does not need to be afraid they will spot her in the dark. They only look to where they’re headed. But she stills keeps in her breath when they walk past her.

The broad figures with their glowing eyes used to be human. They no longer are. Mallory always thought they were soulless anyway, if they were this willing to sell themselves out to the ruling humans they deserve to be what they are. She does not know how they become what they are, not much is shared with the public who has no longer secrets themselves to hide.

Big brother is watching you; a sentence from the past that no longer is just a conspiracy. No one but the powerful has secrets these days. Mallory is blessed to still be able to have a few of her own.

She waits another five minutes before leaving her hiding spot, just to be sure.

It takes her another ten minutes for her to stop walking. Very suddenly she stops, as if she had walked into an invisible wall. That assumption is not completely inaccurate, in truth Mallory had collided with a force shield. The get together she is heading for changes location each time. All it has for protection is the invisible field of force that hides the entrance. Someone who does not know where to look for, will walk straight past it.

Behind the field there is a door that looks like a simple fire escape. But when the door is opened not the insides of the office are shown, but concrete stairs that will lead her to what is beneath the building.

It kind of looks like the stairs that will lead you to an underground parking lot. But where she is headed there will be no cars.

Neon is what lights up the concrete stairs here as well. Mallory needs to focus on where she sets her feet, the pale blue light gives her a headache.

Sixty steps later she is finally at her destination.

She is greeted by the sound of nails ticking upon wood. It’s cheekbones are sharp, its black hair is short. Blue eyes are glowing, when they see her.

“I am lost.” Is all she tells the cyborg sitting in front of the closed door. It’s unnatural blue eyes scan her face with a bored expression. It is chewing pink gum, she can smell the sweet smell even here. They don’t necessary have a gender, but some prefer to behave like one. This one apparently preferred to be a woman today.

The cyborg wears a low cut top, it barely hides her chest from Mallory her judging eyes.

“You don’t look lost to me, honey.” The cyborg in return is scanning the mundane outfit she is wearing. Mallory sighs, pulling the zipper of her grey coat down to reveal the black vinyl that hides underneath.

The in red painted lips of the woman in front of her curl up into a smile. She does not speak any more words, all that she gives Mallory is an open door.

Smoke circles outside, the hollow sound of deep beats comes with it when she steps inside the opening.

“Be aware little one, it’s much darker down there than you’re used to.”

Mallory is unfazed by the cyborg’s words. This is not her first trip down the rabbit hole and when the door closes and darkness swallows her sight, she does not look back.

Chapter Text

The human is bound to the surgery table. Thick iron cuffs are around its ankles and wrists, making it impossible for the subject to move.

When they are brought into this particular room they no longer have an identity. Three men clothed in white lab coats are watching their subject struggle for freedom. Their assistant, a blonde boy reads the subject’s report.

Most of them come willingly, but some do not. This particular human is a good example of one who did not come here on its own terms.

For outsiders Hawthorne Inc. is the company behind the neon that lights up the dark city. It is how they started, that much is true. But with the years that had passed Hawthorne had become something more.

The two scientist share a look that goes unnoticed by the boy still reading the report. Baldwin Pennypacker and Ariel Augustus have been working for Hawthorne for a while now, counseling younger individuals to become what they are.

The so called ‘Nighters’ are needed to keep the city save, once their eyes are removed they will have no will of their own any longer. It’s a painful process, for the human at least it is. The trauma that comes with ones eyes being plucked out of their sockets creates enough brain damage for them to mold their subjects into submissiveness.

“Stand behind the glass please, the procedure will start within minutes.” Ariel watches their apprentice.  Michael Langdon is young, but he has a lot of potential. The blonde boy looks up from the report, he wears a frown.

Michael knows he should hide his true feelings, but he can’t help but to feel disgusted by the way they’re taking this human’s identity from it. The human, a male called Kyle is innocent. He broke the law by going outside during curfew. Truth be told, he was going out to visit his girlfriend whom he wasn’t able to see during day hours.

Michael feels bad for the man that only wanted to love his girlfriend. The scientists watch him with raised brows.

“What is it, Michael?” There is something of concern in Ariel Augustus eyes when he considers his star student. Michael shakes his head, forcing himself to smile.

“Nothing, I was only thinking about lunch.”

The two scientists accept his lie, moving behind the glass to watch how a robotic arm moves above the innocent’s head.

Michael does not look away when the brown eyes of the young man are plucked from him. Michael’s face stays in the same bored expression they all wear when blood spurts up to the ceiling.

If only they knew what Michael was up to during night hours. Michael does not want to think about that, because if they knew, he would be the next one tied up on the table.

#

Michael watches how laser lights cut through the darkness. Between the lights they dance, coordinated messes of freedom.

Nothing here is calculated, controlled or thought about beforehand. Humans, cyborgs or anything else that longs for free will are gathered here. This is a place where you are supposed to stand out.

She does not need much to stand out. Even when she is wearing her grey clothes and hides her eyes behind glasses that are too large to fit her delicate face; she is the most extraordinary being he’d ever seen.

It does not take her long for her to spot him as well. She frees her hair from the bun when she sees him.

The black vinyl she is wearing reflect the lights, even in the dark she shines. He only needs to nod to where the bathrooms are for her to follow.

That same vinyl squeaks when he pushes her against the tiled wall. The tight material hugs her body in all the right places. She is covered in the black shiny fabric from her ankles to her throat. His sweaty hands slide easily over the material when they find their way to her lower back.

In the soft pink lighting of the bathroom he can’t see her blown out pupils, he can’t see how her cheeks are coloured an adorable pink.

Michael feels heated, it’s hard enough to keep their acquaintance a secret whenever they meet in public. When he sees her like this, in an environment they’re free of all their obligations, it’s hard for him to hold back.

He loves how impatient she looks when he does not kiss her immediately. But there are other matters that needs to be discussed first. He will love her later; when the neon burns not as bright as it does now.

Her hands are placed upon his hips, it takes all of Michael’s self-control to not push them against hers.

He moves his head to her ear instead, to whisper a secret that is too valuable to be heard by others. Even in this place of freedom, there are things not meant for everyone.

“They got Kyle.”

She does not let out a sound, but the way her body stiffens against his in fear, is telling enough.

 

Chapter Text

Mallory does not need the glasses, but she wears them anyway. It’s easier to hide her genuine feelings behind the ill-fitting frame.

Her eyes stare at the computer screen, there are a few appointments on the agenda she needs to cancel. But that will only take her a click with the white mouse beneath her right hand. Its seconds only work, Mallory her job is not that tiring these days.

Instead she stares outside. The city is coloured in a pale blue light, to give the residents the faux feeling it is day. In a world where the sun no longer shines it might as well be always night. But a society does not perform well without structure.

They’re not at the top floor of the skyscraper, but they’re high enough for her to become dizzy when she stares to the ground. There are not walls, everything is glass. They work with ten of them in this spacious white room.

It’s the tallest building of the city. In the penthouse above the offices lives the one ruling the neon city.

Officially the current leader is chosen democratically. But everyone knows the polls were manipulated to make her win. Not a queen, not a princess and neither a president. They got rid of all the words they used in the time there still was sunlight. Their leader is now officially called the Supreme.

Her dark eyes fall upon the pale face of her colleague sitting across of her. There are blue circles beneath her eyes, her straight brown hair is not as kept as it usual is. She is almost drowning in her too big grey dress. She had lost a lot of weight in the weeks that had followed after her boyfriend’s capture.

Zoe Benson her kind eyes falls into hers, the usually sadness she manages to hide is there now. Mallory wants to stand up from her stool, to comfort her friend.

Her desires to hold her friend are wiped away when the elevator doors open. Two tall figures step into the office. Conversations die, all eyes are suddenly focused upon the computer screens again.

They both are clothed in black. She is wearing a cape to hide her dress; he is wearing a cape because he wants to look powerful. Behold Chablis takes the lead, but everyone knows it’s the blonde woman who is pulling the strings.

Mallory cancels the appointments she should’ve cancelled minutes ago. She pretends to be working, like the rest of them does.

The two figures stop in front of her desk. The man looks her small frame up and down with a bored expression. The woman does not even really look at her.

“Mallory, I want you to call my wife to tell her I’ll be out the whole evening. I also want you to clear out my evening schedule for the whole week.”

Mallory looks up from her screen. There she is, Cordelia Goode. The one who managed to crawl herself to the top with a marketing strategy appeased on her feminine side. Her speeches scream feminist, while her actions speak selfishness.

Mallory gives the Supreme a dutiful smile anyway.  “Of course, Mrs. Goode.”

--

“They’re up to something.” She should know better to speak freely when they’re not under the ground; but the Supreme’s request keeps on spooking in her head.

She is lying upon the grey sheets of her bed. Zoe Benson who is applying her make up watches her friend in the mirror’s reflection.

“They always are. Do you think they got information from… him?” Zoe still cannot speak her lovers name out loud. Mallory does not blame her, she doesn’t know what she would do if she ever lost Michael.

“I don’t know. Michael says they didn’t scan his brain when he was there. But he doesn’t know what they do to them before they are delivered to him…”

Zoe her breath is shaky and Mallory realizes the mistake she made. She jumps up from the bed to wrap her arms around her friend’s shoulders.

“It will be okay, Zoe. Tonight we will meet with Madison who might can tell us more.” Mallory kisses Zoe’s cheek, it leaves a bright pink print behind.

Mallory her pink lipstick matches her outfit. She chose to wear a bright pink mesh shirt with nothing beneath it. (She stills wants to tease Michael, even when there are more important matters at play.)

Zoe smiles again. She takes Mallory her hand in hers when she steps away from the vanity. “Maybe we will find a way to get him back.” Zoe is hopeful, but Mallory does think there is a way.

But she wants to see her friend happy; so she lies.

“Maybe there is.”

Chapter Text

In the darkness he can only hear the dripping of water. The building moans with age, his boots stomp into something wet.

He is at the edge of the city, were light is sacred and homes are rotting away. Mice squeak in corners, something bigger and mutilated runs away from his human presence.

Michael does not need light to find his way in the decay that was once his home. He was born in this place. His cries a loud sound in comparison with his brother’s soft whimper. Jeffrey died after he took his first breath.

The technology to revive his brother was there when he was born, but it was not as good as it is now. His parents were grateful for it anyway, Michael used to be grateful for it. He isn’t now; he wishes something better for his brother.

The door squeaks like the rest of the house when he pulls it open. Michael comes here every Friday to meet him. The light in their old bedroom flickers on when he steps inside.

They share their mother’s hair but that’s all that they share. One blue human eye, surrounded by loose skin coloured rubber. The other eye is so bright it almost shines. Jeffrey his veins are not filled with blood but with a substance toxic to humans. It’s black and visible beneath his ‘skin’.

He’s wearing a grey sweater that is too big for his lanky form. His arms and legs are made of iron, badly sewed to his own human torso. His torso is now hidden behind the grey fabric, but Michael knows his skin is covered with blisters and scars. It won’t take long before they need to replace the last human thing his brother still possesses. The substance that runs through the other parts of his body slowly kills of what isn’t made in a lab.

Michael his heart aches for his brother. He is made to die, made to become something that isn’t him. Michael is the only one who visits his brother, the only one who can stand to see him in the light.

Jeffrey is not a nice thing to look at, his face horrendous and cruel. But all Michael sees is the shiny smile his brother gives him when his unmatched eyes fall into Michael's own.

--

Ben Harmon talks with the cyborgs who are not practicing their fighting skills. None of the metallic beings here are controlled by humans. They used to be controlled, but they managed to set themselves free from orders.

Some because they were old models saved by the dark haired who likes to make sure they are doing well. Some came to their senses and escaped their employees. ‘Employees’ being the kindest word to describe them.

Michael watches how one of the newer additions impales a human looking board with a heavy steel pipe. In a way they are lost, they no longer do what they were made to do. Purposeless, homeless and outlaws.

All they have are the ones who are also hidden.

Michael Langdon used to be Michael Harmon, but he no longer likes to be associated with his family. He only cares about his brother; he has lots of reasons to hate his father figure. Michael however still needs Ben Harmon, he is an important ally in the fight against the Supreme’s regime.

When the cyborgs leave Dr. Harmon, Michael walks his way. He had promised Mallory to find out more about Kyle Spencer’s unfortunate capture. Michael is not sure there is a way to reverse what had happened. But the robots, cyborgs and everything else what walks around here should be proof enough that not everything can be controlled for forever.

When Michael tells Ben about Kyle, the doctor frowns.

“No system is perfect, yet. But they’re getting there. You must go into the basement for that answer, I am afraid.”

It’s the answer Michael had expected, but not the one he had wanted to hear. Michael let’s out a sigh, turning his back on the black haired man.

It is dangerous, but with all that is happening it is something that he has to undertake. He will have to meet Mallory before doing so. He might not return if things go wrong

Chapter Text

The apartment he lives in does not look like it belongs to him.

The sheets are ruffled, the dishes unwashed and in the bathroom there is a pile of clothing that needs to be washed.

But nothing in this apartment makes it truly his. The walls are white, the floor is covered with grey carpet. There are no pictures, no handwritten notes, the place even doesn’t really smell like him. Michael rather smells like the place instead.

It’s a spacious apartment, not one Mallory would be able to afford. But Hawthorne employees have a special place in this society, even when they are just starters.

The wall of the living room is made entirely of glass. It gives them a spectacular view over the neon coloured city.

The lights are turned off, their bodies are illuminated by the city only.

They grey carpet is imprinting unsolvable mazes on the bare skin of her ass. Her body is pressed to the floor by his, her legs are spread by his demanding hands. Ever willing to please, he did not gave her the chance to undress properly.

The grey skirt is pushed up, her panties torn apart somewhere else in the apartment. In a way this apartment seems to belong more to her than him in this very moment.

His blonde hair is tickling the insides of her thighs, his head moves between her legs. Something is not right. Maybe it was in the way he looked, or maybe it was the way he gave her no time to say ‘Hi’.

She knows something is not right, she knows she should push him away and ask him what is on his mind. But all that is easier to think about than to do, when he does what he does with his tongue.

She can only focus on the city lights and how they become blurry when he gives her for what she not necessarily came.

Later her underwear still is lost somewhere in his living room. Take out is leaning against their knees, her bare ass is still touching the carpet. He is sitting upon the sofa. Empty take out boxes are spread over the glass table.

The lights are still turned off, the dancing lights that come from outside are their only amusement. She knows he likes it better to speak when its dark.

“I need to go to the basement, I know it’s dangerous, but we need to find out if there is a way to help Kyle.”

Mallory exchanges her place upon the ground for one next to him on the sofa.

She does not like the idea of him going there, it’s a dangerous place. She trusts him to make it out, but still. It’s not a secret that the basement of Hawthorne has a lot of secrets. Many dark things happen there where almost no one comes.

Maybe Michael can try to slip in under the disguise of a student who wants to learn everything. But the basement rarely has visitors, and when they come back they never really are the same.

“I trust you, but if you need help you know there are plenty of people who can help you.” Mallory her thin fingers wrap themselves around his wrist. His pale eyes stare to where she holds him.

“I will be okay.”

#

Mallory takes the city in, she tries to find beauty in the colours. She tries so hard to not be as negative, but Mallory is not a person to change her mindset quickly.

Before Michael there was a different mindset. One she still carries somewhere hidden in the back of her head. She used to love the city and its rulers. Mallory used to not care about oppression, working for Cordelia Goode had been the best thing life had ever brought her.

She was eager to obey, a perfect follower. Not until the night she had followed Michael Langdon downtown, she had started to see things differently.

In a way he had saved her that very night, the memories still so clear in her head. The lights become blurry, her eyes grow teary. A weary feeling washes over her, when she so accurately feels what she had felt back then. Pure anxiety, the fear to lose a life.

His arms are around her waist before she can fall completely back in those memories. A sudden guilt washes over her, when his lips are pressed against that place in her neck.

She cannot focus on the negative feelings now, she must analyze those later. Mallory nods, making a mental note of it; before leaning into his embrace.