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My own voice cannot save me now.

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When Isabelle passes him in the hall, Shawn knows. He knows it from the stride, the angry snapping of her hips, he knows it from the alien light that sometimes flares up striking behind her eyes.

He knows it when she passes him in the hallway and doesn't even mention the ruined wedding, from the way she doesn't even look at him, but the cloud of malice that shrouds her more often than not these days is so vibrant, he half believes it's become tangible, and will eat him, screaming, alive in her wake.

Shawn knows it not because he's frightened of Isabelle- hell, he'll be the first to admit it doesn't necessarily take anything special for that to be true- but because Isabelle is being *frightening*.

More importantly, Shawn knows exactly who to blame. Not even back for twenty four hours, and- Jesus, Shawn wants to pull own hair out. He's already started to bite his nails again.

He tells himself it's panic that speeds his steps on his journey to the elevator bank.


Shawn flings open the door to his suite not really giving much of a damn about the way it hits the wall behind it or the way he can hear the "snk-crunch" of the dry wall giving way.

One hand scrubbing at his face, he turns to pace back out towards his door, and then round again, and swear-to-God jumps a full inch off the floor when Richard's just standing in his living room, looking at him like he's grown a second head. But Richard's nothing if not patient, and-

"I take it you haven't seen Isabelle recently." Shawn can't keep his laughter out of the question.

"What happened Shawn?"

"Isabelle left."

If Richard's frown lines got any deeper, Shawn was going to start worrying that the man was hurting himself. "So? I don't get what's making you so upset, so *fidgety*-"

"No, I'm sorry, I'm not making myself clear-" Shawn walks all the way up to the coffee table and leans down into Richard's stationary form.

"Isabelle left, because *Jordan* told her to go away."

Richard stands in a fluid motion, and Shawn's immediately aware again how physically intimidating the man can make himself. He backs away from the coffee table as Richard paces around in short circles akin to stuff he used to watch as a kid on the freaking Discovery channel, and Shawn wonders if he should start worrying about his *own* safety here, when Richard stops and-

"Maybe it's for the best." Frustration's etched on his face, and Shawn doesn't want to loose this argument, not to Richard, not when he's going to have it again as soon as they're done here. "If what you saw in that cigar is true, or hell, even remotely close to what's going to happen, then maybe she shouldn't be here. Maybe Jordan's right on this one."

Shawn knows his face has gone ugly but really, he can't help it. "How
can you even say that? Yes, Isabelle can be terrifying when she wants to be, but she's capable of good, everybody's capable of good. Damn it, Richard, she's your daughter-"

"And don't you think I know that?" Shawn steps back from the quickness of Richard's invasion into his personal space. "Let me tell you something. And maybe you just really haven't seen it yet because you're young, but there are some things that are evil in this world, and that's the only way they can be."

Shawn needs to leave. Hearing this from someone who puts so much value in the truth is more than he wants to deal with right now.

"I'm saying this knowing I'm going to love my baby no matter what she does, but she does so much harm, Shawn. It's hard to see how she can possibly want a better future for us."

And Richard's hand on his shoulder feels more like a plea than a comfort. Richard closes the door softly in sharp counter point to how Shawn entered moments ago, and Shawn heads for his bathroom.

He turns on the tap, watches the water run over his fingers for a beat before splashing his face. He doesn't look into the mirror, and doesn't think about what he's going to say to Jordan.


Shawn doesn't even manage to knock before Jordan pulls the door open. The other man looks shocked, and then does a credible impression of seeming as if he's been made awkward by the coincidence of opening the door before Shawn's able to knock.

He really, really wonders why Jordan bothers.

And it must show on his face, because where Collier's eyes were beaming in beatification at the door, they've gone a little dark at the edges with caution. Shawn, pissed-off as he is, thinks it'd be a little melodramatic to respond to whatever pithy comment Jordan's going to throw at him in a few moments with a thinly veiled reference to the fact that his hands can kill, and *have* nearly done as much in anger.

"Hello Shawn."


"What can I do for-"

"Oh, I think you know why I'm here."

Jordan licks his lips, and sits at his desk, spreading his arms wide.

Shawn'd swear on his life the only time the man looks more smug is when he's in bed with yet another stupidly deluded heiress.

"Ah, yes. The lovely bride-to-be."

Jordan stares at him, and Shawn, for the life of him, can't read him anymore at all.

"As I understood it, it was sort of a forced arrangement anyway. No need to thank me, Shawn."

At Jordan's quiet, private little smile, Shawn forces himself not to speak for fear of what he might say.

"And I suppose this is the part where you lecture me on the good in everyone. Let me tell you something. My interests have never *been* more altruistic than they are right now, Shawn. And do you know why? Because I've seen the future."

Jordan stands up in a smooth elegant movement that has him crossing around to the other side of the desk. Shawn would move, his mind is screaming at him not to move, but all he can do is grit his teeth and stare as Jordan comes closer.

"And there is no place for that horrifying bitch of a weapon-"

Jordan's hands are cold, and while one's neatly around his neck, just hard enough for Shawn to feel his pulse hammer against the side of his head, the other's slipping down the front of his oxford shirt like quicksilver.

"-in our camp. We must protect humanity, Shawn."

Jordan's smile is cruel enough to be a laugh. "You use *everything* around you, you bastard." Shawn wishes he weren't gasping.

Jordan's new beard, part of this messiah stint he's pushing on people now, scratches at Shawn's ear, gusts of his hot breath making Shawn shiver. "Unfortunately for everyone involved, you like it."

Shawn swore this wouldn't happen again.


After, when Shawn's back in the so-called "privacy" of his Collier-owned suite, he knows he's got to stop this.

He's standing in the shower, the hot water's slowly running cold, scrubbing himself nearly raw. Shawn knows chess well enough to see where Jordan's placing his pawns.

Dripping on the floor, in a blue towel a few shades lighter than his eyes, he picks up his landline, and tries not to think to hard about how disappointed Richard's going to be when he finds out he's always had NTAC on speed-dial.