FiendPuncher meets us in medical, arms crossed, looking furious. “Apparently I’m the only one smart enough to actually run from one of the most terrifying people in the city.”
Jailbait flips her off. “I was actually helping. Thanks for making us look bad.”
“It all just happened so fast,” Caffeine says, with a shit-eating grin.
Their teammates are busy getting treated, and both just groan at us from beds on the opposite side of the room.
“Twice in one day?” Time says, “really, Travis.”
She looks over the scrape and cut on my cheek, but doesn’t do anything to it. I really wish I’d gotten someone whose powers didn’t interact with hers. My cheek feels like a branding iron.
“Next time,” Psybeam says, quietly, almost into my ear, “we should go over evacuation procedures or something.”
Next time, I think I’m going to literally inject the kids with beacons, and make them carry extras, and get someone to sign me out an emergency teleport for each and every one of them.
“Whoa,” Caffeine says, “when did you get here?”
Jailbait looks at him quizzically, too.
“I brought him,” FiendPuncher grits out. “I thought this was obvious. The people who can move fast move fast and carry along whoever they can with them.”
“Huh,” Caffeine says. “I guess.”
“Enigma Machine can move at almost 100 miles per hour, and can carry at least one person while doing it,” FiendPuncher hisses, “and you, you can move how fast?”
“Well, let’s say faster than that, anyway, and I doubt it would slow you down all that much to carry someone,” she spits.
“Can’t,” Caffeine says, shrugging again.
“Can’t?” FiendPuncher snaps.
Caffeine shrugs again. “I can’t take anyone else with me. Not allowed.”
“You’re not rated to take anyone with you, Caffeine,” I grumble, “are you seriously saying you’re going to adhere to that in a fucking emergency?”
“Didn’t see you doing anything,” he tells me.
I put a hand to my head, and let the kids go back to fighting each other.
Of course, I get debriefed by no less than three separate people, and I’m sure more will show up later, or over the weekend, or on Monday.
And, of course, the good doctor demands I see him at my earliest convenience.
And, of course, the rumor mill is up and running, and I have no idea how many times I say I’m fine, but it is a lot, and it is to a lot of people. Including people I have not seen nor talked to in years. Not including my parents, fortunately, although yes including my uncle, who I kind of have to beg not to tell them. And send photographic proof that I’m only mildly injured. And also he’s pulled the incident report and the medical report (on the kids, not that he didn’t try to pull mine).
Who are fine, as it turns out, shaken up, but fine. Playing checkers in the gym with Dr. Skye. Hunch comes by to turn on that little feed for me while I wait in administrative purgatory.
Saint comes by to refresh the patch on my cheek, grumbling about how even if it doesn’t bother me I’m still setting a pretty bad example. It goes numb.
Sensei Domino comes by to ask me if I want him to take over training for a little while, if the kids are even going to show up next week, because I can always tell them to take some time off, and should do it myself if I need to. I decline. Then he sits with me for a while, dealing out a couple hands of cards. Vector is playing, too, and Bartok. I think we play Gin.
Or maybe Go Fish. I don’t know.
Eventually, some little machine in the corner beeps and I drop all my cards in my lap and curse and try to catch my breath. I guess I’m not a memetic hazard, though.
Someone tells me this weekend someone else will be dropping by to comb through my head.
Someone hands me a cup of coffee.
Someone warns me about upping my security measures at home for the time being.
Someone gives me a ride.
Darren’s at the door supporting me once I get there, already having gotten the updated threat level, already having set up the extra precautions, already having checked to see that I was okay, and, I assume, sent the necessary messages to friends and relatives about being careful. I wonder if he texted me. Or called. Or emailed. I hope I mentioned to him that I was fine.
“Travis?” Darren says, again, and I nod at him, and my head hits the pillow.
I’m asleep within minutes.
I dream of Klepto singing nursery rhymes, counting rhymes as he points to body after body. I recognize the gravesite, I’ve seen enough pictures. The bodies don’t look like bodies, though, they look like little zombie dolls blown up to life size, and sometimes they grin and sing along. I shoot them and shoot them but they don’t go quiet or stop laughing and I realize that I’m aiming wrong but I can’t remember where I’m supposed to hit, the head or the heart.
I wake up crying in the middle of the night and it takes Darren sitting through almost the entirety of Night of the Living Dead with me before I can go back to sleep, and even then only after tea and then soup and then cocoa and only because he threatens to call Dr. Waters.
And only because he stirred a sleeping pill into the cocoa and led me back to bed.
I wake up late on Saturday and can only remember dreaming about whales.