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Their hands touched as Sherdan handed Anya her hot chocolate. She was curled up in his favourite chair with him, sat on the floor beside her, near the roaring fire in the study. Her cheeks glowed and her hands were pink as she warmed them up on her drink. Her smile, like a child on Christmas morning, spread more warmth through him than the fire ever could.

She soon finished her hot chocolate and yawned. Normally he would have let her rest at this point but he didn’t want to this evening. He liked having such amicable company in his study, even if she had sat in his chair. He watched as her eyes closed and imagined her sitting there some months from now with a very large bump. The thought made him smile.

He allowed his mind to wander as Anya fell into a deeper sleep. He had been happier since Hitchin had told him why Anya was here. It comforted him that she had a purpose; that his reaction to her torture had been more than him going soft.

Sherdan knew they would not be able to wait long to have children, however, if theirs really was to be the first with multiple abilities. There were already couples within the program and who knew when a woman would fall pregnant.

It had also occurred to him that Anya would need to take the drug before she got pregnant. Giving it to her wasn’t something he had thought much about, considering that she might die. Knowing she would live changed things.

He decided to suggest it to her in the near future. He would give her the choice for now. If he needed to force her he could do so at a later date. She seemed to like feeling as though she had a choice, even if he knew that she didn’t. Offering her more time had made her significantly more amiable. He just hoped she would not want too much more.

It didn’t bother him that she had been let out of her room and then encouraged back by some miraculous force. As far as he was concerned the very force that had given Hitchin the vision had also brought her back. It was comforting that she wouldn’t really ever be able to refuse.

Everything else aside, however, he didn’t want to hurt her and really hoped that when the time came she would be ready and willing. He gazed at her lovingly; she was fast asleep in the chair and had been for a while.

Sherdan felt reluctant to disturb her but he would need to sleep soon himself and despite the progress he wasn’t leaving her outside of a locked room. He didn’t trust her that much yet.

As carefully as he could, Sherdan slid his arms underneath Anya. She soon stirred and looked at him through sleep hazed eyes.

“Bed time,” he whispered. She struggled against him as he lifted her.

“It’s okay, I can walk.” Sherdan didn’t let her go but moved with her towards the stairs. He noticed that she was lighter than she had been the first time he carried her, making it easier for him to carry her smoothly.

He placed her in bed and pulled the covers over her. She dozed again before he’d even finished that much but he wasn’t so fortunate and lay wide awake in his own bed for several hours. His thoughts were full of their evening together. He had never enjoyed snow so much.

It had been a long time since Sherdan had taken time off let alone be silly with someone for an entire evening. The snowman they’d built had been huge. He couldn’t remember ever making one so large as a child but the best creation by far had been the snow angels. He had taken several photos.

When Sherdan woke up the following morning he sighed and didn’t want to get up except to see Anya. They had breakfast together, as had become normal, before he had to continue with his work.

The morning post brought a letter from the mayor concerning the roads. He had found a legal loophole that meant he could claim the roads back for public use. Sherdan had been expecting it.

He wrote a letter back, politely declining and offering to negotiate an alternative. He knew that the Mayor would say no but he wanted to appear reasonable wherever possible. There was also the fact that it would buy a few more days before they would need to progress to the next stage.

Sherdan soon went over to the command bunker, although he lingered briefly to straighten the carrot-nose on their snowman. After a morning of arranging and coordinating he spent the afternoon with Hitchin.

The first batch of the applicants had taken the drug, boosting their numbers by twenty. There wouldn’t be any new talents yet, but a few days or so in Hitchin’s care and some interesting things would start to happen.

Sherdan looked over their test results and reports so far and then went to introduce himself to everyone in the medical rooms.

All the test subjects greeted him enthusiastically. A few were a little nervous but he soon boosted their confidence. When he went back to Hitchin he had a query to make:

“The young girl in the batch, Ellie, how old is she?”

“She’s nineteen according to her application,” Hitchin replied once he had pulled out her file.

“Can we get that checked? I’m not sure she’s that old.”

“They will have checked when she applied.”

“I know, I would just like it double checked.”

“Of course, I’ll have that done. Can you tell what any of their powers are yet?”

“No, not yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long.”

“Do you want to add Miss Price to the next batch?” Hitchin asked in as relaxed a manner as he could manage. Sherdan looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Not yet, I’ve only just told her about your vision.”

“Did she respond well?”

“Not at first. She’s requested time to get to know me.”

“Be careful how much time you give her. She needs to take the drug and have an ability before the child’s DNA is mapped.” Hitchin had frowned at Sherdan briefly. He knew his friend thought he was being too soft on Anya.

“I’m aware. I won’t leave it long.”

“Let me know when you want her added to a batch then.”

Sherdan nodded and left the scientist to continue his work. He was a little concerned that he hadn’t been able to see any of the new abilities yet in the latest group of residents, but for the moment it was only a passing thought. He wanted to focus on Anya again for the coming evening. He would need to suggest she take the drug. Hitchin was right, he couldn’t wait much longer.

He found Anya pacing and praying again when he joined her later. She seemed a little preoccupied while they ate and only gave him one or two word answers to his questions.

“Is everything all right?” he asked when he could ignore it no longer. She nodded. “Have you thought any more about our situation?”

“A little, I enjoyed yesterday evening.”

“Good, I did too. I have been hoping to present something else for you to think about.” Anya frowned but didn’t say anything. “I’d like you to take the drug.”

“I’m really not sure I want to.”

“I need you to.”

“Biblically it goes against everything I believe in. The body I have already is the way God created me to be, with all my limitations. I’m sorry Sherdan. The rest I can consider but I will never willingly take that drug.”

“You won’t go away and think about it? It would be difficult living in a community of people who had taken it if you were the only one that hadn’t.”

“I really won’t change my mind on this one. I won’t take it.” Sherdan looked off into the distance while he tried not to snap at her. She would have to take it at some point but he didn’t want to spoil their evening together by arguing.

Anya didn’t need to know that he wouldn’t take no for an answer until he injected her with it. There was even the possibility of doing it while she slept so she would not know until afterwards, but he would only do that as a last resort.

They spent the rest of the evening playing cards and talking about their childhoods. She had owned many pets and Sherdan hadn’t ever been allowed a single one. He’d also had no brothers or sisters and Anya had one of each.

She’d not had a poor family but it hadn’t been anyway near as rich as Sherdan’s. He had inherited a large amount of property which was the basis for his current situation. He himself had proved clever enough to have a natural science degree from Cambridge.

Sherdan saw Anya look down at this. He reached out his hand and tilted her chin back up. She looked sad but held his gaze this time.

“I don’t think less of you because you are an artist with a more… simple life.”

“But if I marry you that shall no longer be the case.”

“Do you not want the money and power I offer?”

“It is not the money or the power that bothers me; it’s the temptation and corruption that comes with it.”

“You think me corrupt?”

“I think you’re too used to getting your own way.” Sherdan frowned. He felt his anger rising up inside him and did everything he could to suppress it.

“You may be right,” he said, shocked himself. Anya’s eyes went wide. “I usually get what I want.”

They parted each other happily as they had done the night before. Sherdan decided to talk to Hitchin about giving Anya the drug without warning. She would have to forgive him for going against her will. He knew it would upset her but she was right, he wanted his own way and was not very good at taking no for an answer.

The following day, as Sherdan expected, the police had turned up at several of the road blocks and requested they be removed. He personally went to each one and explained that it was private land and he didn’t have to. The police left all but one after speaking to him, giving him time to have the last few emitters put in place.

He wanted to go talk to Hitchin but knew he needed to keep abreast of the situation with the police. It wouldn’t be too long before they had all the paperwork sorted and would insist on moving the barriers. He doubted they would try and take the barriers away themselves but even if they did try they would soon realise it was impossible.

Sherdan estimated that it would only be a day or so before they would have their third and final line of defence set up. Thankfully the technology was easily attached to each emitter and over half the area was already attached.

The work he had to do kept him from focusing on Anya. As a consequence she had gained time before he would force her to take the drug.

Just after lunch Sherdan received a phone call from the Mayor. It wasn’t something he had expected.

“Dr Harper. My Police chief has informed me that you are still refusing to open the roads.”

“Yes, I did warn you that I wouldn’t.”

“I’m giving you one last chance to cooperate.”

“I really don’t think you understand. Nothing you have the power to do will open the roads.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Do you have anything else to tell me?” At this the Mayor slammed to the phone down. It wouldn’t be much longer before his arrest was ordered.

As Sherdan expected, the police were soon trying to gain access to arrest him. He told the security guards to stand back and let the police try.

He sat down and watched on the camera as both the policeman walked towards the barrier and suddenly stopped. They quickly stepped back and looked at each other. Confusion reigned on their faces. Sherdan laughed as they tried again. They would be doing that for a little while.

“Keep me updated with events please,” Sherdan radioed the two security guards. He then focused on getting their next line of defence in place. There was no knowing when they would need it at this point in time but it was best to be prepared. Late in the afternoon he finally got to go see Hitchin. As usual he greeted him happily.

“I spoke to Anya about taking the treatment.”

“And?” Hitchin put down the lab goggles he had been wearing.

“She was adamant that she didn’t want to take it.”

“She needs to take it.”

“I know. Can you prepare a treatment for her for two days time?”

“Of course. We’ll want to monitor her health, just in case.”

“Yes, why don’t you bring the drug over in two evenings time and we’ll bring her back here once you’ve injected her and calmed her down.”

The police spent the rest of the day trying to get into the area to arrest Sherdan. None of them succeeded and reports came in of the police getting very frustrated. Most of them gave up. The few that remained sat in their cars and waited, not really knowing what to do.

This put Sherdan in high spirits for another evening with Anya. The last two evenings had gone very well. They had managed to avoided arguing and he found her letting him into her mind a little. He still hoped she would completely open up to him before long. He wasn’t going to allow anything less.