There’s a knock at my door. I look up, and Dr. Waters is there, leaning against the doorframe. I barely resist the urge to roll my eyes, and tidy up my desk instead.
“Got time to talk?” he asks.
I shrug. “Is it really necessary?”
“Hunch says you lost control of your powers for a minute,” he tells me.
“I didn’t lose control,” I explain, leaving my perfectly tidy desk and following him to his office, “I thought I might, so I dropped them for a minute, but I never lost control.”
“Still,” he says, waving me into a plush and disarming armchair.
“Still, what, Doctor?” I ask, sitting down and snapping on the cuff. I flex my wrist. “Do I really have to wear this?”
“Can’t be too careful,” he says, holding up a hand, “no, I know you underwent a full analysis last month, but it’s protocol, especially when we’re discussing something like this.”
“They itch, though,” I tell him.
His gaze jerks up from his notes. “Itch like –”
“Itch like they irritate my skin,” I say, “I haven’t developed any memetic abilities.”
He nods. “Well, given –”
“I know.” I fiddle with the cuff.
“Given your –”
“I know,” I repeat.
He grins at me. “Are you sure you haven’t developed an ability that tells you what I’m going to say next?”
I hold up my wrist and shake it at him.
The good doctor sighs. “Travis – would you prefer I call you ‘Teke’?”
“No,” I say, “it’s fine.”
“Alright.” He shuffles his notes into a neat pile and clasps his hands together over them. “How often are you having nightmares?”
I do roll my eyes, this time. “Not that often.”
“Are you still taking anything to sleep?” he asks.
“No,” I say, “I’m sleeping fine.”
“And if I ask Agent Donahue in here to confirm?” he asks me.
I laugh at that one. “You’ll probably get punched in the face for knowing, and, anyway, it’s been over a week, at this point.”
“Since you slept together?” he asks.
“Since we woke up together, at any rate,” I tell him.
“That must be frustrating for you,” he says, with that patronizing faux-compassionate smile.
“Not frustrating enough that I’m going to start smashing buildings into other buildings,” I drawl, “I have better emotional control than that.”
He nods, jotting something down.
“I’ve never done anything that anyone has any cause to be worried,” I remind him. “What, you want me to be like Arsenal and not even blink when I kill someone? Because that kid –”
“Is not someone I can discuss with you, even if he were my patient,” Dr. Waters remonstrates.
“- has issues. That’s all I was going to say.” I fold my arms over my chest. This guy.
“You’re welcome to speak with him yourself, of course, if that’s really what’s bothering you,” he says, “you’ve been assigned to the same patrol team, after all.”
“Oh, great, we can commiserate on how we know exactly how each other feels,” I say, “isn’t it bad enough I have to put on the mask and the cape?”
“If you have a problem with the costume design, you can have it changed,” the doctor tells me, extremely sarcastically, but at least he’s emoting honestly for once.
My fingers tap against my arm, just below the cuff.
The doctor sighs. “Are you having problems with the idea of a masked identity?”
“No shit,” I say.
“I know by now that you’re conceptually okay with it, so I won’t bother repeating the party line,” he tells me. “You do understand that the secrecy is about keeping the children safe, not hiding who you are?”
“Of course I understand that, but it’s not like I’m going to know their names or addresses, anyway,” I say. Aside from Gatling, and his parents are idiots for signing him up. Or maybe not, considering his powers, but I still would’ve gotten him to join without a paper trail, anyway.
Or maybe I’m biased because now I’m even more responsible for the little shit. No handing him off to a social worker anymore; I’ve practically got to raise him now.
On the plus side, I’ve stopped wishing he’d shoot himself. I don’t bring that up to Dr. Waters.
“I don’t think you’re ready to return to hostage crisis duties,” Dr. Waters pronounces.
I throw my hands up. “I never said I was!”
“Oh?” He checks my folder. “You made sure to recertify after your analysis.”
“Yeah, just in case, and good thing I did, too, isn’t it?” I wave my hand. “Because sometimes emergencies come up, and I need to help, and I don’t need your formal report on whether or not I’m sane to tell me I don’t want to deal with them if I don’t have to.”
He glances at my hand in amusement.
I tug at the cuff a little as I flex my fingers. “Fine. Reasonable precaution. You win.”
“I’m not trying to win, Travis.” Dr. Waters leans forward. “Do you want to talk to me about why you’re so worried over Arsenal?”
“The kid is barely college age, and he’s already killed four people,” I say.
“He didn’t die,” Dr. Waters corrects me. “He regenerated. We have him in custody, for the time being. Would you like to speak with him?”
“You know what I mean,” I say.
“You were worried Arsenal had killed a man with your help,” the doctor tells me.
I clench my hand, and relax the fist when I feel the cuff pressing against the tensed muscles. Notably, I didn’t need it to keep my TK silent. “I know he didn’t die. I saw him come back. You and I both know that Arsenal couldn’t have known that would happen for certain.”
“I think,” Dr. Waters says, “we may be concentrating on the wrong issue.”
“Fuck you,” I tell him, “I’m fine. That monster was pointing some kind of sadistic disintegration ray at a bunch of defenseless civilians. Some of whom were children.”
“Hmm,” he says, with that benevolent fucking smile.
“Hmm, what?” I say. Because if he’s going to bring up –
“I’ve reconsidered,” he explains, tapping his chin with one finger.
“What?” I say.
He beams at me. “Maybe you are simply concerned over your new teammate, after all.”
Who knows what’s going on in his head? I shrug. “How do you figure?”
“Because you obviously haven’t looked into what the gun was going to do,” he says.
I stare at him for a minute. “Why would I do that?”
“Alright,” the doctor says. “If you’re not running yourself ragged making sure it was a good shooting, I believe you that you feel it was justified.”
“Oh, good. Now that we’re clear I’m not going to have a breakdown over this one,” I say, “can I go now? Or are we really going through the checklist?”
“You’re going to have to go through it before you can return to active,” he explains, like I haven’t been here for years.
I glare at him. “What part of –”
“I can give you a provisional okay, but it’s only going to last a week,” he says, “and emergencies don’t time themselves around paperwork.”
It takes ages to get out of there.
When I finally do, I head back to look up what the hell the gun does, if it’s so important. At least my desk is a high priority workstation, now, so that’s worth something. I log in, and browse through the various researchers’ notes. Obviously there isn’t an official report, yet.
It’s meant to send the victims into shock. I may have nightmares about this, after all.