Lawrence, Lizzy, and Rosa
A familiar face?
What am I even still doing here?
It wasn't exactly a question that needed an answer. Lawrence was here because he had to be, it was no more of a mystery than that. He had always expected to become a staff mage, but it was looking more and more like that option had been eliminated from his future. USARILN was determined to keep him with this team, in spite of both his lack of ability and their lack of desire to have him around.
It was the latter though that seemed to gnaw on him the most.
Sprawled out on his bed with Lizzy laying over top of him- the dog had seemed far more attached to him since arriving on the island, and he welcomed the company- Lawrence slowly traced a circle around his chest where the hole that almost killed him once was. Ironically it was one of his only injuries over the past year that hadn't left a scar- with more minor ones having been treated the old fashioned way. Something about that felt like it cheapened the experience somehow, but he wasn't exactly liable to forget about it without a visual reminder.
In truth though, dying only somewhat bothered him (In fact, feeling that ocean of power trickle into him once more during the experience bothered him far more). It was something he was resigned to with every mission, even if he would prevent it as much as he possibly could. However, it had made abundantly clear how much of an outsider he was in this team. How many of them had visited him as he recovered? It seemed that nobody had bothered to approach him for advice or even a chat since his injury had healed. All the while they continued to meet up with each other and tried to forge bonds outside of their missions without him.
Was he really the least desirable person here?
It had been eating at him more and more over the past week or so. If the others were all getting together in their spare time, then it meant the problem rested with him. Sure, when it was his own class the distance between them had been bearable, there had been Elizabeth to wash away any loneliness. After her death, the time alone had become a comfort to deal with his grief. However now...
Now his grieving had mostly passed, and Elizabeth was still gone. All that remained was the loneliness.
Solid stoicism, neutrality, and a distance from others had pushed everyone away too far, and now even if the others didn't need Lawrence, he had need of them. He hadn't died, and now his life needed to be filled with something. Otherwise he might end it himself eventually. So here he was in his room, trying to at least partially break down that mental wall he had set up, and for the most part failing. Each time cracks began to show, an uncomfortable flood of stress threatened to break through, and he closed them up once more. He needed something to replace that coping mechanism, and while others may have thought he'd caught a cold lately the lingering scent of cigarette smoke betrayed a different cause for his coughing fits.
It hadn't been working out so far, and he was almost committed to ending the idea and trying to move on as he always had.
Idly he glanced at his phone, one of his most neglected possessions. After all, who had tried to call him over this past month? Still, he noticed a small icon in the upper corner of the screen that he was unfamiliar with. And upon further inspection saw;
Unread Texts: 45
Missed Calls: 7
And as if on cue it began to buzz for an incoming call before he could even check any of his backlog. Quickly he pressed answer and put it to his ear.
"Finally!" Rosa's exasperated voice on the other end of the line was loud--even louder than the woman's usually chipper, exuberant volume. "I've been trying to reach you privately ever since Wisford! This isn't talk for the cuffs and I know you weren't unconscious the entire time--do you have any idea what's been happening with that group?"
At the mention of Wisford Lawrence grimaced on the other end of the line and paused, looking to Lizzy as if she could somehow help him during this conversation. As if sensing his motives, she turned her face away with a huff and pretended to fall asleep on top of him.
With a sigh, he finally responded;
“Vaguely. Is that what you're calling me for? A status update?”
"Yeah, a bit! You're supposed to be watching out for them--or at least not letting them kill over sixty civilians in a fit of panic! I realize ever since Elizabeth you've been less than involved with anyone and anything, but at least pretend you have powers, Lawrence!"
“I've offered them my help Rosa, none of them have decided that it's needed and I sure as hell can't force them to accept it. If you're asking me to use my power to manipulate their free will-”
He was beginning to grow angry at the conversation in very short order, raising his volume to match hers.
“- I didn't sign up to be your mind rapist Rosa, you or Zhang! You want to force them to stop then use the goddamn anklets you fastened to everybody!”
Lizzy lifted one ear slightly at the outburst but otherwise continued with her charade. More quietly Lawrence continued;
“If you think I want to let people die Rosa you're more wrong than you've ever been- but I'm not going to force this team to do anything, they need to...”
What exactly? He trailed off, uncertain. It was the same problem he'd been working at since his injury without an answer.
"They are waaay too inexperienced for some of these situations and you know it! Helping someone calm down either with words or with your power would have done wonders, but if you want to call every instance of helping potential rape I guess that's that, huh? Wisford was one thing, but DC was entirely unprecedented and that's where they needed you most, even if they didn't ask for it! These are excuses, Lawrence. You know why you're on this team!"
Don't act like I'm shirking some kind of responsibility. You forced me away from my class and shoved me with these guys expecting me to babysit them- so pardon fucking me if I haven't stepped into the role.”
With that he ended the call in irritation and tossed the phone across the room- noting with annoyance that it didn't break. Still, if he was trying to seal up any cracks they were thoroughly leaking now. Grabbing the half empty pack of cigarettes on his nightstand, he soon descended into another fit of coughing as the foreign smoke entered his lungs. Supposedly they helped people with stress, but he was having a hard time seeing how.
In the corner his phone buzzed once more, and Lizzy lifted her head to look at it. Turning her gaze from the device to Lawrence and back again, clearly judging. He was tempted to answer it once more, but was far more tempted to avoid it.
He growled at the dog, and stood up as soon as she'd hopped off of him and the bed. No, instead of answering the phone he'd go for a walk. His lungs needed some fresh air in them after his attempts to pick up a new habit, and his stomach needed some coffee in it.
Air and coffee.