By: Cheryl B.

Damon sat in the secret control room with Brenda, watching his whole life and career quite literally going up in flames on the monitor.

The Running Man was, he knew, a controversial show, and there was always the remote possibility that some bleeding heart idiot with no sense of humor would attempt the unthinkable to stop the show from going on, even to the point of trying to kill America's favorite game show host. But who would have ever imagined that an insignificant runner would have been the one to do it? Ben Richards, just another damned bullheaded poster child for steroids, had done what none other had ever managed to do. Well, that's what the audience thought, anyway.

However. Damon had an escape plan in place. Months earlier, Brenda had a secret button installed on the "Death Runner," as they called it, which, when pushed, would change the tracks and whisk Killian immediately to a safe passage that led to the secret control room nearby underground, should he be forced into the ride. There was also a remote button in the hidden room, in case he was unconscious or otherwise unable to press it himself.

Meanwhile, digitally created footage of Damon plummeting through the tubes would play, complete with atomic face lift and the melodramatic finish of his fiery crash right through his smiling picture on the Cadre Cola billboard. A powerful signal, greater than anything the Resistance could override, would kick in and take over. False IDs for him and Brenda and a Swiss bank account, enough to enjoy quite a comfortable retirement, were all in place, thanks to two trusted ICS officials who were the only other people in on the plan. They'd siphoned money from the profits for years building up his "retirement fund."

His clueless yet strangely well-intentioned comrades felt they were "helping the cause," punishing the bad guys for America to see, and supporting Killian in his "quest for justice." He laughed derisively at their naivete, relishing how easy it was to play on their simplistic idealism to get what he wanted from them.

As intriguing as the plan was, he never really thought it would ever be put to use.

But today, it was, as Brenda snuck away to the secret room as soon as Richards, Amber and the Resistance had stormed the studio, to be prepared for the worst.

And sure enough, the shock of being thrust down the pipes and the force of its velocity overwhelmed Damon, as he fumbled for the button in the midst of his confusion. Brenda, seeing on the screen that he was in trouble, pressed the remote button, and now they sat in the control room together, watching the tape.

"God, Brenda," he groaned, staring at his screaming digital image on the monitor, "I look like a freakin' hound dog with my jowls flapping around like that... couldn't you have at least gotten my good side?"

"Well, I suppose so, Damon, but I don't think America is ready to see your derriere on national TV." she grinned sarcastically.

"Bitch!" he snapped, his steel-gray eyes flashing dark and dangerously at her as he a long drag of his cigarette, snorting a puff of smoke out of his nostrils like a raging bull. "Don't you forget who you're talking to!"

Brenda looked at him. "Oh, I remember very well, Damon. You're a dead man." She'd gotten a bit bolder now that the playing field had been leveled, but her voice softened a little. "And this 'bitch' just saved that cute behind of yours, don't forget that."

Killian sighed and slugged down a shot of bourbon. "Yeah, yeah you did. Sorry." He looked at her with a fiery gaze, as his hand found its way to her thigh. "Can you possibly forgive me for being so... naughty?"

"Mmmmmmm," Brenda cooed, "that's why I love fighting with you, the making up part is always the best..." She melted into his caress and closed her eyes as he seized her mouth in a hard, deep kiss. Suddenly, they were interrupted by the telephone.

"Damn it!" he barked, practically shoving Brenda aside and grabbing the emergency phone line that was also part of the escape plan. 'Yeah? Speak! This better be good..." he growled into the receiver as Brenda plopped down in a huff on the sofa.

Well, gee, Damon, that was good for me, how about you?, she fumed in silence as she once again took a back seat to business. It was par for the course in their "relationship," but she found it impossible to leave. In an odd way, they were like dog and master. When he was in a good mood, or wanted companionship, he would pet her and praise her, showering her with kindness and affection. But when he was in a foul mood, he'd kick her.

She sighed. It was his power and his drive and his passion, after all, that attracted her to him in the first place. And in those sweet moments when they were alone and uninterrupted by thoughts of the show, he could be as gentle and tender as any man. If only those times could come more often, she thought wistfully...

The sound of Killian swearing loudly, accompanied by the telephone crashing against the wall, startled Brenda out of her little Harlequin moment. "Damon!" she shouted, "What in the world are you doing?!"

"Hanging up..." he huffed. "I can't believe it. Those bastards at ICS, they've replaced me already!"

She looked at him. "Replaced you?"

Damon sneered impatiently. "Yeah, replaced, what part of 'replaced' don't you understand? They just hired a new host for The Running Man." Just in case there was any life left in the broken telephone, he put it out of its misery, kicking the remains across the room.

"How can they replace Damon Killian?" he continued to rant. "I made The Running Man what it is today!" He took another frustrated drag off of his cigarette and exhaled, pacing the room like a caged animal. "Bloody network Idiots. It's like years ago when they hired some little pip-squeak to take over Family Feud after that first host left. Damn, what's his name? God, he was funny. Good looking fellow, too..."

Brenda looked at him blankly. 'Family Feud?"

"Never mind, it was before your time..." he huffed. "It's not important now. I've got to figure out what to do, where to go. My life here is over, my career, everything..."

Brenda tried to decide how to approach him, whether to back off, or try to comfort him. She didn't want to get her head bitten off, but if she didn't do anything, leaving him to burn with his uncontrollable rage, Damon might likely fly completely off the handle, and then God knows how out of control he'd get.

Quietly, she walked up behind him in the chair he'd slumped into and placed a hand gingerly on his shoulder. Killian sighed slightly as if he were relaxing a bit at her gentle touch, so she rubbed his shoulder lightly. "Are you all right, Damon?" she said softly.

He looked up at her, and for a moment, he appeared so much like a sad and defeated little boy that she felt her heart aching. "Sure, darlin', sure." he said. "It takes more than this to get old Killian down." He squeezed her hand. "Sorry if I scared you with the phone thing, it's just that I..."

"You hate bad news..." she finished his sentence with a grin.

He laughed. "Yeah, yeah I do."

She smiled at him. Brenda knew that a man like Killian would be comforted best by just one thing. Having his ego stroked.

She sat on his lap and caressed his cheek. "Have I told you lately how handsome you are?" she purred in his ear. "Kiss me again...please..." Damon smiled softly, parted her lips with his tongue, and kissed her with a slow, sensual rhythm that surprised and excited Brenda. It wasn't his usual fast and furious style, and it was very, very nice...

She sighed and softly moaned his name, and he looked into her eyes with a mischievous smile. "Oh, you like that, do you?"

"Yes..." she breathed, "Oh yes, Damon..."

As he held her firmly in his embrace, continuing to thrill her with his seductive kisses, she ran her hands across the tight muscles of his arms and chest. "You're so strong, it feels so good when you hold me," she sighed, still trying to make Damon feel better, but meaning every word of it. She loved it when he was like this, and she prayed it would never end.

As he began to plant hot, sweet kisses all over the creamy pale skin of her neck, she held him tight, running her fingers through his elegant gray hair and closing her eyes, savoring the beautiful sensation. Who wants a boy, she thought with a contented sigh, when you can have a real man...

She sought his mouth and kissed him again, as his hands began to slowly stroke her back through the silk blouse she was wearing.

Lost in the blissful moment, once again they were interrupted, this time by a knock on the door. "Not again...." he muttered as he arose and went to the door, at least not shoving her aside this time.

"Password?" Damon demanded sharply through the closed door.

"Randolph" called out a male voice. It was Killian's middle name, known to very few people.

"Come...." Damon said, unlocking the door.

It was Sid, one of the ICS men. "Sorry to interrupt, sir. I tried calling again, but your phone seemed to be..." he looked at the shards of what was once the telephone scattered across the floor, "umm....out of order."

"I was having some technical difficulties," Damon said indifferently. "What is it this time?"

Sid handed him a digital video card. "I have the screen test that your replacement did for ICS," he explained. "I thought you might want to see it."

"Good, thanks," Killian replied curtly. "Keep me informed. I won't be leaving until tomorrow.

"Yes, sir," Sid said as he left. Damon sighed heavily as he looked at the card in his hand.

"Go ahead," he said to Brenda, "we might as well see what brilliant choice ICS has made this time." She took the card and put it in the computer.

As the audition footage played, Damon pounded the table with his fist. "What the bloody hell?" he yelled, "They're replacing me with some stupid broad?? Oh, I don't freakin' believe this..."

Brenda rolled her eyes at Mr. Sensitivity as she watched the screen. "Damon, come on, she's really not so bad. She's British, that's got to count for something, doesn't it?"

He snorted derisively. "So's that snot-nosed, pretty-boy King William, but I wouldn't want him to run my show either. Hell, just because his mommy died in a car crash and daddy was dethroned because he married that horse-faced mistress of his.... well, that's beside the point."

Brenda smiled. "Oh, come watch, Damon. She's doing a pretty good job, if you ask me."

"I didn't." he said abruptly. But with a sigh of resignation, he sat down to watch. The footage was staged like a real show, with the host standing beside a runner strapped to the Death Mobile. The woman was a little older than Damon, but not by much, with short red hair, glasses, and a long black leather trench coat. He had to admit that she cut an imposing figure.

"Who's about to run for his life, but is too slow to catch it?" the woman mocked her prisoner, her hand on the lever, a proud eyebrow cocked. "You ARE the weakest link... Good-bye!" And down into the depths he screamed.

Killian's look of disgust turned to a reluctant admiration and fascination. "You know, I gotta admit, Brenda, there's something about her I like."

"There's something about you that I like, too," she whispered, kissing him again.

He grinned. "Who loves you, and who do you love?" he growled softly as he returned her kiss.

Brenda shook her head with a laugh. "You don't love me, Damon. You don't love anybody."

He stepped back, a slight look of hurt and sadness crossing his features. "I guess you're right, Brenda," he said softly as he kissed her again. "Perhaps you could teach me how..."

"I can try," she sighed, "After all, starting today, you're a whole new man with a whole new life."

"And with you by my side, maybe it can be a good life." he said with a gentle smile. "How does the Caribbean sound?"

"Like heaven...." she whispered, lost in his kiss and in lovely thoughts of what possibilities awaited them in their island paradise. With none of the former pressures of the business to fuel his bad side, perhaps he could indeed fully become the man of her dreams, the man that she loved...


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