This is a prequel story to the CW's show "Nikita". It involves the early days of Division, it's shift into real power and those involved with that shift: Percy, Carla, and newly-appointed Amanda. Roan is a particularly difficult recruit, but will an unexpected streak of favoritism find him a place in Division? The story of how the Cleaner division was started in the first place. It's a slash story containing BDSM and some strong language, Percy/Roan.
Carla Bennett tapped her pen against her desk in a steady rhythm. She thought it might be tapping out the beat of some stupid new song she had heard on the radio, but she wasn't sure. The inability to place the simplistic tune frustrated her: she was sick of uncertainty during these tenuous times.
The woman leaned back in her chair, surprised at the suppleness of the leather, the thickness of its cushioning. For all the years she had spent in office chairs during her career as a prison councilor, she had scarcely noticed the discomfort of her old seating: neither the irritatingly harsh cheap fabrics or the wafer-thin cushions worn flat by years of use. It was funny how misery was so often noticed in retrospect during idle moments of better times. Her hindsight had sharpened acutely recently.
Carla threw the pen across the chic glass-and-metal desk. It clattered and rolled to the end, fell to the plush black carpet. She stood, and paced the ultra-modern office. No matter what artwork she had put on the walls, no matter what plant she tried to keep on a file cabinet, despite the few necklaces she had left on the desk, the blazer thrown over the back of her chair, Carla still felt that this space was not her own.
She felt that it was Percy's.
Carla sighed in frustration. What was the matter with her? Yes, this operation was Percy's, it always had been, and what was the problem with that? Without Percy, she never would have been able to realize her full potential, her full purpose. When she thought about her arduous struggle to save a single mind from the decay of crime and darkness, she shuddered. How many lives had she ever really changed? How many people had she ever really saved? She could not even trust the idea that she saved the ones that seemed to listen to her: they could have regressed at any point later in their lives, and she would be none the wiser.
Percy had scraped her out of that prison where her best efforts had gone to rot. He had funded her while she learned to hone her skills, and given her no end of needing patients. She had more control over the rehabilitation of these tortured souls, growing with them as they changed their entire lives. Percy was like a father, structuring their lives with reality and discipline. Carla was the mother, nurturing them and guiding them with understanding.
Carla stopped pacing, staring at a black and white art photograph of an expansive Arizona desert and its intricately shaded skyline. Against the backdrop, a flower was sprouting out from a crack in the arid soil. Percy had bought this for her, as well. A strange thought crossed Carla's mind before she could stop it: Percy had bought her hope. Carla smiled, though something about the realization worried her.
Instead of allowing herself to mistrust the man that had given her her ultimate chance at making a difference, Carla turned her mind to a more obvious and easily accepted problem: Amanda.
If Percy was the father and Carla the mother of the program now being called 'Division', then Amanda was … What was she? Carla saw her as the home-wrecking mistress: a shiny, new woman who had far too much of Percy's attention right now. She was a flash-in-the-pan, Carla thought, but one capable of using her little burst of talent and attention to blind even the aloof Percival Rhodes. Carla did not like how the woman strutted down the halls of this new headquarters of theirs, as if the expansion of Percy and Carla's program had been her idea. Percy swore they needed her for the heavier workload of taking on more patients (he called them 'agents' now, but Carla would always see them as her 'patients'). Carla did not see why they needed her specifically; Amanda was less a psychologist and more a manipulator- of minds, of men, of anyone and anything she needed to mold to her needs.
As much as Carla saw Amanda as a kind of mistress of Division's, Percy seemed to view her as the nanny: a halfway point between Carla's soft sympathy and his own rigid strictness. Needed her! He refused to stop believing that they needed Amanda, going into this bold new future of the program's.
Carla shook her head. So be it. She had her reservations, but she was a professional. Percy's attention had spoiled her, she had gotten too used to being the star therapist she had always wished to be. Even with Amanda, Carla was secure in her position in the program, and she was still far better off than she ever had been. She would never be lost in the system again, an unheard voice trying to throw a feeble light on all the darkness twisting inside so many people's souls. Percy had heard her, and now her voice would reach so many, change so many …
Carla returned to her desk and rifled through her patient files. She picked up the one she needed for the next hour's session. She opened the folder and stared at the military photo of a young soldier. There was a hardness to his expression, and his dark blue eyes stared out like stone at the camera, even through his glasses. Carla thought he was handsome, though there was something, an edge or roughness perhaps, that kept him from having the usual clean cut appearance most soldiers attained in their portraits.
He looked rougher now that he was in Division. His formerly buzzed hair had grown out into a disheveled blond mess, and a golden fuzz of stubble broke across his face. The only remnants of his days as a soldier were his straight-backed posture and adeptness at remaining absolutely silent during any kind of questioning, no matter how rough or gentle. Percy was beginning to hint to Carla that this young man, twenty-two-year-old Roan, would not be right for their program. When asked, Amanda opinionated that Roan lacked finesse and polish, whatever that meant.
Carla tucked the folder under her arm. She believed that Roan was misunderstood. Anyone that guarded must be hiding a deep well of pain. If she could only get to the bottom of that well, she could toss the water out until it ran dry. It would exhaust the poor man, but the only way to conquer pain was to bring it to the surface and deal with it. The second chance he would gain would be worth the effort, and he would be the stronger for it.
Yes, Carla thought as she left her office for a glass of water before the appointment, she would prove her worth by proving this poor young man's worth. She told herself this strong resolve was coming from her concern for Roan, but deep down, she knew a part of it was stemming from the allure of having a victory over Amanda.
Roan sat stonily in the mundanely artsy therapy room that belonged to Carla Bennett. He found the entire underground facility to be irritatingly surreal: sharp steel walls, floors, straight and functional layout, cutting-edge technology, weapons, combat training, yet all those admirable features were juxtaposed with this inspirational little niche, and the even-worse insufferable elegance of Amanda's strange office/dress-up room/tea room/whatever the hell room the prissy bitch wanted it to be at the moment.
Roan was a man of simple wants and tastes. He did not for the life of him understand this place, and he hated things he did not understand. Not that he was stupid, he was actually quite intelligent, but he thought complexity was too often mistaken for quality. Sometimes, a thing was not complicated because it was special, it was just complicated for the sake of being too confusing for anyone to decipher its insignificance.
The young ex-soldier thought that Division had a lot of good qualities, but it was squandering its resources (which must have been large) on these psychology sessions. So long as a soldier functioned on the battlefield, so long as a spy got his intel, what did it fucking matter what was going on in his mind? Or what the hell he looked like?
Roan scowled, shifting in the armchair as he waited for Bennett, growing more and more agitated. It was what was in his mind that caused his squad to turn on him, which had in turn caused him to open a healthy round of 'friendly fire' on all of them. The experience of watching those hypocritical bastards choke on their own blood had almost been worth the execution for treason he had come very close to being put to.
That man, Rhodes, who insisted on being called 'Percy', even by grunts, had come to him in the military prison where he was being held. Roan had been amazed that anyone was able to contact him at all, and then baffled as to why someone as important and respected as Percy seemed would bother to. When the man spoke, a hope that Roan had never known had stirred in his usually unaffected heart.
Percy told him that he would take him off death row and out of military prison. He told him that he would take care of everything that had happened, not only in the Middle East, but at any point in Roan's troubled young life. The world would think that the demonized example of everything wrong with the military had been executed, when in fact he would be spirited away to an underground non-existence. In exchange, all Percy wanted was his service and his loyalty.
As ludicrous as it all sounded, Roan had never once doubted Percy's sincerity. Roan was highly adept at seeing through bullshit, and he saw that Percy was direct, earnest. Though he outwardly remained wary, Roan felt gratitude and relief. He appreciated Percy in a way he had never experienced with anyone before. The man had erased his dark life, and saved it at the same time. It was a Faustian miracle.
He had agreed to join the man's covert operation, this 'Division' thing. He was slightly resentful about continuing to work for a government that had been about to send him to death, but Percy assured him that Division was different from the rest of the bureaucratic and military machine, though he refused to explain exactly how.
Now, Roan felt abandoned. The training was excellent, but these psychology sessions were superfluous. He could not understand what his mental state had to do with being an agent of Division. He could not understand why Amanda kept trying to have his hair clipped into some style. He barely even saw Percy anymore, and when he did, he kept getting the impression that he was failing him somehow. This annoyed him, but worse … it disappointed him. He wanted to please the man that had saved him. The fact that he felt this way further disturbed him.
The door opened, shaking Roan from his thoughts, though his expression did not change. He turned his face just slightly and looked up. Carla Bennett had come in, with her insipidly warm smile. He hated how nice she was. He never trusted 'nice' people, they made no sense; human nature was not nice, and anyone making that pretense had to have some ulterior motive for it.
"Good afternoon, Roan," Carla said with that smile broadening to show her white teeth. "How are you today?"
"I heard you've been exceeding in your self-defense lessons-"
"Hand-to-hand combat training."
Carla's smile froze. "What?"
"They aren't suburban karate lessons," Roan informed her. "Division is teaching us hand-to-hand combat tactics, on the highest level. I passed from breaking limbs to snapping necks today."
Carla maintained at least half her smile, shaking her head. She had taken issue with the excessive violence training the young agents all received, but Percy assured her that these kids would be put into very dangerous situations, and had to be able to defend themselves against anything. 'The flags of freedom never fly unstained,' he often said. (Carla did not know it, but Percy had made it a joke to use her love of obvious metaphors and symbolism sardonically).
"You must find comfort in the idea of being able to defend yourself adequately," Carla said. She opened the folder and rifled through papers. "Though it seems you've always been quite capable of that. You spent the handful of days you spent in school getting into fistfights with the other boys."
Roan was nonplussed. He said nothing. Carla hesitated. She had intended to play hard ball with Roan today, to remove the kid gloves once and for all, but it was difficult for her. She drew a breath. Sometimes things had to be broken down to be built back up again, she assured herself. If Roan was thrown out of this program, he would be broken down all right, by the system that had almost killed him in the first place.
"Tell me," Carla said, "do you always feel the need to defend yourself?"
Roan did not answer.
"Is this feeling of persecution by the world that leads you to attack so often the result of your mother's disapproval of you?"
Roan bristled inwardly, but gave no obvious sign. His face had gone blank. Carla felt her hopes sinking. Soldiers were able to shut down, she knew, and if they were as good at it as Roan was, it took more than she could ever give to break them.
"Your mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, Roan," Carla said softly, trying to kill him with kindness, so to speak. "She thought you were something that does not exist, because she was afraid of the maternal love you symbolized for her. So, she made you into a fantasy that deserved no love, nothing but hatred. She convinced herself that you were a monster, to escape her responsibilities to you. She was not weak, she simply was incapable of dealing with the reality of having to raise a child alone."
Roan's eyes narrowed slightly. Hatred burned through every molecule of his being. He wanted to take this woman who thought she knew him so well and cut her throat from ear to ear. He wanted to cut every finger and toe off, one by one, and hear her scream with all the pain she was trying to scratch out of him.
If only the bitch knew, Roan thought with a bitter mental laugh. If only she knew the truth: that he was a monster. The sympathy would be gone from those soulful brown eyes of hers, and that light of compassion would go out. He almost opened his mouth and told her the truth right there, just to see that look on her face: the slow dawning of terror.
That had been the look his fellow marines had given him when he gunned down those civilians. There had been a flicker of it in their eyes before that, when he had tortured a stray dog to death, but it had been nothing compared to the expression on their faces when his bullets had sprayed that crowd, women screaming and children choking tiny last gurgles before they hit the ground.
Before the end, his squad had those looks on their faces, but in the extremest form. It had almost been a caricature of horror. Roan would never forget that moment: it was his most cherished memory.
"You are not a monster," Carla said, completely unaware of Roan's thoughts. "Perhaps you felt that you had to make yourself one to justify your mother's attitude towards you. Perhaps you've always felt that everyone sees you the way your mother saw you, and so you react accordingly."
Roan's fist clenched. Carla could see his skin reddening, and the line of his jaw going taut. For the first time, she felt a thrill of fear. The handsomeness fell away, and she saw more the cruel fury warping the young man's features. She forced these feelings away, telling herself Roan was merely putting up walls to protect himself.
"Did you feel that your fellow soldiers saw you as the monster your mother did?" Carla asked. "Did they treat you differently, Roan? Did they frighten you?"
"No," Roan finally replied. His voice was low, dangerously quiet. "I frightened them."
Carla leaned forward in her chair. "Why did you frighten them, Roan?"
"Because they weren't idiots like you!" Roan snapped, finally losing his cool. He got to his feet, and he was tall. "They knew enough to be afraid, you stupid bitch."
Carla also stood, though her legs felt stiff. "Now, Roan-"
Roan grabbed her in a fast motion, walked her backwards until her back hit a wall. He held her there, elated by the terror on her face. Where was all her sympathy now?
Carla stared into those eyes, and she saw no pain there, only joy. It must be her fear. It had to be. Nonetheless, her hand reached into her pocket, and she pressed the security button sewn into its lining.
"I'm not afraid of you, Roan," she forced herself to say. "I'm not afraid of you, because you're a man, not a monster. Do you understand me?"
Roan sneered, his arm thrusting up against her delicate neck. He was on the verge of crushing her windpipe when the doors opened and guards rushed in. He turned on them, ready to fight, but decided against it: that would be the last straw with Percy, and the thought stayed him. He was grabbed and ushered out roughly. His face had gone emotionless again.
Carla hunched over, rubbing her throat. She assured the guards she was all right. Once she recovered, she went to the phone. She would not give up. She could not give up, even now. Her fingers dialed Percy's line.