He spent much of the time on the way back in something of a daze and though it did not last terribly long, it was still frustrating. Luckily, by the time they had returned to base, he felt more himself, having recovered both from the exposure to his own power and from taking the invisible strikes. He was still sore though. Sore and unhappy.
Following the others in—and giving his duplicate a wide berth—he was somewhat relieved, though also confused, when the clone's voice had no effect on him...or apparently the others. The only difference was Broker's presence. His eyes narrowed slightly, but he said nothing...for a time.
As Heartless finished, he glanced to the bar and—though he too wanted a drink, he didn't trust the fellow to make him one properly. Instead, he made his way over and began making a relatively elaborate mixed drink. As he did so, he spoke, power off, but tone clear to carry to them all."I expected the worst from the very beginning. It's why I was so careful. Honestly, the rest of you should learn to accept that there will always be complications."
He spilled a bit of wine and it was only then that he realized his hands were shaking. He pressed on, acting as if nothing had happened."Regardless, it was a mess. The Wards showed up. I don't know if they were tipped off and this was a test or if it was entirely unrelated, but regardless it was...not ideal. By the by, as you can see we still brought back what you required. What I think might be more pressing is..."
he trailed off, finishing the drink and setting it on the counter, his eyes on Broker. Before he spoke again he took a long swig and swallowed, letting the liquid courage begin to ease his nerves."You interact with powers somehow,"
he said matter-of-factly. He was nervous, he was tired, but he was also curious. He found he couldn't hold the gaze and so looked down at his glass.
He considered how coldly the man had simply murdered the clones. If he hadn't already been somewhat desensitized by the events of the day, he'd be reeling. Why had he shot the clone of Sophia? He understood that a second one of her existence could cause problems, but still...that was. He took another drink. "I talked about it with Headhunter, but I think the others need to know the distinct feel of my power. You can nullify it afterwards I figure. Since you did so with the clone. I think it may help with identifying other troublesome masters in the future, but that's...that's less important right now."
He glanced at the others, falling silent for a long moment.
Eventually he looked to Broker and spoke, "I'd like to know what we're actually doing here."
He then looked away and fell silent. He didn't like this.
She didn't deserve the pay, she didn't deserve to be pardoned of her mistakes. This wasn't right. How could they stand by and just let them off for screwing things up so badly? Even with the tears falling already, her face screwed up a little—though the expression was hidden. Mask in hand, she decided to put it back on.
When they were dismissed she had almost made it out when she heard her name. Stopping in place—her being the last one out of the room—she found herself completely frozen as the Director's words slammed into her like a truck. Steadying herself with a hand on the doorframe, terror looming just like the 'shadow' of silvery light that had enshroaded Director Kens. She couldn't see it with her back turned, but she could feel it. She knew it was there, but was too shocked and terrified to banish it.Hardness (bone), muscle(flex, stretch, strength, adaptability)— "No,"
she whispered, but it didn't stop.—fat(energy storage, cushion, soft, deformable), nerves(electricity, chemical impulse, fragility)— "NO!"
She shouted, before falling abruptly silent, stunned by her own loudness. The 'shadow's' silver visage fled backwards through a wall and disappeared, but she could still hear it rattling off material information in her mind as it moved further and further away. She commanded it go upwards till it was in the air, where it had limited materials to analyze. She made it stay there and then, around the twisted knot of dread in her gut, she spoke.
Her voice came out quiet, but audible, "S-sorry. I...I'll try,"
she swallowed hard and didn't turn back to look at the Director. Her fingers were bent into claws where she was gripping the doorframe.
After a few moments she managed to move and when she did so she ran and didn't stop. Only once she nearly got to the exit did someone stop her and tell her she was still in costume. She'd somehow forgotten...despite the mask. Despite the fit of the clothes. Letting the woman lead her to a changing room, Evelyn waited and took the change of clothes. The woman, gently, suggested she shower. Evelyn couldn't work up the nerve or the will to say no so she disrobed and got in.
She could barely feel the water, instead she was more aware of whenever the 'shadow' of light moved faintly to try and return to her. She stopped it every time...and recoiled whenever she had to. Several times she almost slipped and hurt herself.
Once she had finished cleaning and dressing—the actions methodical and automatic, her mind on autopilot—she emerged to find that the woman had arranged a ride for her. There were tears in her eyes again at the kindness, but she couldn't thank her. Couldn't speak, because if she did it meant thinking...and thinking meant.
No. No. No. No.
She wrapped her arms around herself in the backseat. For a few minutes the driver tried to make idle conversation, but eventually they decided to just turn some music on and hum quietly. It was only when they arrived at her house and Evelyn got out of the car that she realized she'd gotten a ride from them before. She realized that normally they were friendly despite her only been 17 and the man being much older. It was like talking to her grandpa, she remembered.
She felt a brief guilt, that then turned crushing. She blinked, now staring at the door of her house. She was about to knock, then remembered she had a key, but couldn't get it out, her hands clumsy.
The 'shadow' moved. She froze. After two minutes, frozen there, wrestling with her emotions...and her power. Her terrible, terrible power.
The door opened. It was her mom and before she could try to move or say anything, she was in a hug. Before she could register that, they moved to the couch and she suddenly realized she was crying. Again.
Stupid. Weak. Useless.
She could smell her mom's perfume...and her dad's cologne.
The thoughts drifted away, she felt detached from the warmth and the love, but also wrapped in it. Almost smothered, but it was good.
They wouldn't talk about what happened that day. They'd talk when she was ready. She wouldn't realize she'd fallen asleep in her mother's embrace until she woke in her own bed, feeling confused, but comfortable.
She'd have her favorite breakfast that day and ice cream...and just about anything she asked for. Normally her parents were less doting, but they knew what to do when she was sick or upset. She loved them for it.
Especially now, even when she felt so numb and useless and terrible. Even with the storm of emotions and turbulent deprecation in her mind, they gave her warmth and love...and she could even feel some of it.
Hopefully it would be enough.
The silver light, its form a thin veil over her house, said otherwise.