There was something to be said about the fact that the hospital was still in construction while it was running. There were patients in the waiting room, sitting in the chairs that had been bolted to the floor, and the unhappiness of needing a hospital visit was compounded by the fact that a third of the way across the room, behind a plastic sheet that had been taped to walls, ceiling and floor, a team was using power tools and calling out in loud voices as they built the rest of the room.
The hospital staff looked pretty miserable too, most of them sequestered on the other side of a counter, walled off from the patients by a plexiglass window. Security guards stood off to one side.
“Can I help you?” a secretary asked.
“I was wondering if it was possible for me to see a patient?”
“Visiting hours are open. Patient’s name?”
“Fume Hood. I don’t know her real name.”
The secretary stopped, then looked at the male secretary, who sat at the other end of the counter. She looked past him at the security guard.
“I was one of the people giving her medical attention when the ambulance arrived,” I said. I knew it wouldn’t matter, that they would assume I’d been lying, but I hoped it would temper the reaction.
“She’s not accepting visitors,” the secretary said.
“One second,” I heard. A female voice.
Two overlapping sections of the plastic sheet peeled apart. Tempera ducked through, and put the tacky sides of the plastic back together. She was dusty from plaster and streaked with paint that wasn’t from her power. She wore overalls, a black t-shirt for a top, and had a different pattern to the paint she’d applied over her eyes with fingers, more like she had applied it to her fingers and pressed them to her eyes as a series of vertical bars, each bleeding into the one beside it.
“Hi, Victoria,” she said to me.
She looked at the secretary, “We know her. Can I take her back to the room?”
“Let me get her information, and I’ll buzz you two through.”
I took the clipboard with the paperwork, and I filled out the information, checking my phone to remind myself of the specifics of Crystal’s address. She took the clipboard, read it over, and let us through.
We walked down the back halls of the hospital, past individual clinics and their signs and separate waiting areas, past patient rooms and nurse’s stations. Tempera indicated the turns. We didn’t rush it, an unspoken agreement that we’d take our time, have a chance to talk.
“There was one attempt on her life. We were worried there would be another,” Tempera said.
“Are you standing guard?” I asked.
“I am keeping an eye on things, but mostly by accident. I’ve been helping with the construction. I like getting my hands dirty,” Tempera said. She smiled as she held up one hand, which was covered in wet white ‘paint’ down to the elbow, the paint turning black before transitioning to her light brown skin. “Look at you, though. You look tidy.”
Tidy. It was an amusing choice of words, when Tempera looked anything but. I smiled. “Looking around to see if any teams are looking to fill positions.”
“Only one was actually posting any openings, a corporate team, Auzure. Foresight and the Attendant were open to interviewing me. There are two other big teams; one gave me a hard no, and the other is folding into the Attendant and won’t exist soon, they didn’t give me a response yet, and with how the talk with the Attendant went, I don’t think it’d work out.”
“They’re pretty conservative. In a lot of respects. A lot of the religious capes went to the Shepherds and will be part of the Attendant. I’ve been paying close attention to that.”
“Yeah,” I said. “One or two of the sketchy people from Empire Eighty-Eight, too.”
“Empire Eighty-Eight? They sound familiar.”
“They had a presence for a while. A few years back they broke up into two other groups. The Pure and Fenrir’s Chosen.”
“Ah. I know the Chosen. They were linked to the Clans, I think?”
“Yes. The Clans spread out across multiple cities, and would funnel anyone who got powers over to the Empire Eighty-Eight core group, back before Leviathan broke the group’s back. They were a background element in my childhood and cape career.”
“Ahh. Was that a factor in your wanting to join?”
A very carefully neutral question, that. I wondered if she was prodding me, not declaring a stance while feeling me out. I was still an unknown, in a way.
“Violent racists on the team? Definitely a factor, big point against. Question is, are they ex-violent, ex-racists? Gets muddier. Even then, I might draw the line there, and not join. If they were contrite? I could roll with that, I think. Barring one or two especially scummy individuals. Interview didn’t get far enough for me to raise the subject.”
Tempera nodded, not saying anything.
“I think… maybe I’m being unsubtle, saying it, but I think there’s a big difference between who those guys were and who Fume Hood is.”
“I think so too.”
“How is she?”
“She’s hurt by what happened. It’s hard, to put yourself out there, face your shortcomings, try to be better, and get shot for it.”
“Partial facing of shortcomings, from what she and I talked about,” I said.
“It’s why I said face, instead of ‘admit’,” Tempera said. “But I don’t want to quibble. Change of subject. You said your meeting went badly. Can I ask what happened?”
“Fallen,” I said.
“Did you get in another fight?”
“No,” I said. I sighed. “No. They did what they often do, they caused a disruption, and that’s a playing field that suits them well. I’d call it a draw, but I’m pretty sure they’re still out there recruiting and I’m not out there counteracting that.”
“There will always be bad guys. They will always be out there. There will always be murders, there will be theft, there will be drugs.”
“Question is,” Tempera said, “Where do you want to be, in relation to that, as it happens?”
“That is a deceptively tricky question,” I said.
“You definitely put yourself out there, backing us up when things went sideways at the community center.”
“I really appreciate that you see it that way,” I said.
“You put yourself in front of Lord of Loss. I don’t know how your power works, but it’s obvious you can bleed. There was some danger there.”
I acknowledged that with a small nod.
“And now you’re interviewing for teams? So soon after? It sounds like you want to be out there, helping.”
“I do. I’m zero for three, though.”
“You don’t want to be independent? Hold on a second. We’re nearly at the room, but let’s finish talking before we go in.”
We stopped midway down the hallway. A nurse’s station was a short distance away.
“I-” I started. “I think, the way things are going, I might end up going that way. Teams are a complication of their own.”
“They are,” Tempera said. “I had a phone call earlier, offering a position. I can go right there and sign the paperwork if I want to.”
“The Attendant, as it happens,” Tempera said.
I was momentarily lost for words. She’d been doing what I’d thought, inviting me to answer without declaring a position, but from a different angle.
“I want to wait and see how the merger with the Shepherds shakes up, how it feels after, they said not to wait too long. It’s decent money, decent exposure. A lot of decency.”
“Don’t let what I said change your mind on anything. I’m griping, it’s-”
“It’s fine,” she said. “I invited you to gripe, if we’re going to use your word. It’s interesting to hear that take on them. I didn’t know about the racist ex-villains joining. I’m curious about how they handled the Fallen there, too, in your situation.”
“I think, uh, don’t tell them I said this…”
“…I think they or the people they’re taking guidance from are approaching that stance of there always being bad guys to deal with, and they’re deciding to conserve their energy. To not fight that fight. Maybe it’s right to.”
“You got a draw. That’s better than a win for the bad guys there.”
“It’s- yeah,” I said. “I tried to use reason, draw on the stuff I studied, old knowledge I had about the group. Who they were, how they operate, the families, the names. Put that information out there, so the potential recruits would know the key facts. I tried to get them to say who their leader was, pressed the issue, and of course it was the least bad one, so the argument I was gunning for didn’t have much clout, and I lost steam.”
“I picture the Fallen as a group that’s pretty comfortable defying reason.”
“Them, yes. The recruits, I think they were open to hearing it. I threw out some more information I remembered at the last second, but the Fallen were getting pretty loud, I didn’t want to start a riot, and that was more or less it.”
“And the Attendant?”
“Weren’t keen on me making a point of things when the word from on high was to let the Fallen be. I didn’t get my invite to the team.”
Tempera made a face.
“I don’t like ignoring the monsters. And I do think the Fallen are monstrous, as a collective force.”
“They’re a headache I was always glad I wouldn’t have to deal with,” Tempera said. She scratched her nose as she scrunched it up, the paint there highlighting the creases. The scratching deposited more paint on the bridge. “One I guess I’ll have to prepare myself for dealing with. Or possibly not dealing with, if I take the Attendant’s offer.”
“Possibly,” I said. “Don’t give my words too much weight.”
“I’ll try to be sensible about it. I might end up asking those questions you didn’t get a chance to, if that’s okay.”
“I think I’ll be okay, whatever happens. The Wardens facilitated Attendant’s contact with me, and from their tone, I think they’d push to get me on another team if I didn’t go with that one.”
“That’s great,” I said.
“I could put in a word for you.”
“I wouldn’t say no,” I said. “I don’t think I’ll get my hopes up, either.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound negative.”
“Are you finding your way, with these setbacks?”
I shrugged. “Complicated. Just wanted to check in on Fume Hood, while things are quiet. When the law or the system fail to outline a process, do what seems right. When it’s not clear what’s right, go with the law. When neither is clear, reach out.”
I shrugged. “That too. More eyes on a problem never hurts.”
“Another point for the team, instead of going independent,” Tempera said. She looked back down the hall, in the direction we’d been walking to. “Hold on a moment? I’ll check if she’s decent. I wouldn’t mind bringing Fume Hood into it, now that we’re past the semi-confidential stuff about other teams.”
She touched the wall by the door as she rounded the corner, stepping into the room, and she knocked on the door as she entered.
There was a brief pause. The handprint of paint on the wall dropped to the floor with a splat as Tempera said, “Come in.”
The blob of paint on the door fell to the ground as well. Both moved along the ground as I entered, spattering against the back of Tempera’s shoes and the back of her overalls.
Fume Hood had donned a mask, but she didn’t wear the hood. She lay down on the bed, which was angled so she could sit up at an angle. A blanket had been pulled up to her waist, covering her legs.
Crystalclear sat in the chair between her and the window, the crystal configuration on his head slightly different than before. He wore a t-shirt and shorts. There was something odd about a guy with crystals where his eyes and hair would be having very ordinary hairy legs.
“Heya,” Crystalclear said.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hey, patrol girl with a name I can’t remember,” Fume Hood said.
“Victoria,” Tempera volunteered.
“Victoria. Right. Thank you for helping to hold my blood in,” Fume Hood said.
“You’re very welcome,” I said. I noted the flowers and cards sitting beneath the window. “Sorry I didn’t bring anything. This is my awkward ‘I was in the neighborhood’ visit. I saw the hospital name and remembered you were brought out this way.”
“I’ve got too much as it is. Turns out that the key to popularity and acceptance is to get yourself shot.”
Her tone was light, almost amused. Tempera had said Fume Hood was hurt on an emotional level, but I didn’t see a sign of it. I could remember how Tempera had acted on my first meeting with her, how in tune with her team she had been. I was willing to put a lot of stock in her take on things.
“Victoria, what I was going to say, before deciding I’d rather say it here, was that we’re going our separate ways, yes-”
“Longscratch is already gone,” Crystalclear said. “But I don’t think he was ever going to stick around on a permanent basis.”
“Yes,” Tempera said. “Which is a shame. I do hope he finds what he’s looking for. My point is, I don’t want to lose touch. It’s helpful and nice that Crystalclear happened to be here to help illustrate that maintenance of contact.”
“Happy to take credit,” Crystalclear said.
“Victoria said- if you don’t mind me repeating?”
“She said that it’s important to reach out, if I’m recalling that right. I’d like to stay friends with you,” Tempera said. “Crystalclear, Fume Hood. Victoria, you too.”
“Why?” Fume Hood asked.
“What do you mean?” Tempera asked.
“We’re very different people,” Fume Hood said. “I don’t get how that works. How do you stay in touch with people you have very little in common with?”
“Easy. Grab a bite sometime,” I said. “Sandwich, beer or soda, share stories, get different perspectives. I wouldn’t mind.”
“That’d be nice,” Crystalclear said.
“But-” Fume Hood started. She frowned. “Okay, whatever.”
“You should find the words for what you’re trying to say,” I said. “In case it festers or gets in the way.”
“I dunno. I don’t get why you’re here. I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong. You put pressure on my wound, Tempera gave me first aid and used her paint to keep me from dying. I probably owe you my lives. But that whole fiasco was my fault.”
“I blame the attacking villains, not you,” Tempera said.
“Yep,” Crystalclear said.
“Are you trying to be clever and get me to keep being a hero, then?” Fume Hood asked.
“I’m here because I was interested in how you were doing,” I said. “Obviously I’d prefer it if you stayed a hero, but that’s not the objective.”
“If you guys keep showing up with flowers or to make small talk, you make it awfully hard for me to fuck off and go back to being a villain.”
“That’s a plus,” Tempera said. “But like Victoria said, it’s not the main point.”
“On the topic of pluses,” I said, “I’m interested in who those guys were. So if you hear anything, I wouldn’t mind a heads up.”
“The guy who shot me did so of sound mind, no Kingdom Come in play. Independent, apparently. No money in his accounts, he didn’t have internet. He was just pissed off.”
“There were the villains, too,” I said.
“And we don’t know what they were after,” Crystalclear said.
“Multiple conflicting stories,” I said. “Blindside lied to me when I asked. It bothers me, and I worry it’ll happen again.”
“Give me your cell phone number,” Tempera said. “I’ll get in touch.”
There was a brief pause while we sorted things out, me getting the contact information from each of the others, and giving them mine. They already knew each other.
Reaching out, making and maintaining contact.
A part of me had hoped that Fume Hood was wrong, that the team wouldn’t have dissolved, that they’d be together, willing to give things another try. That it might have been a team I could join.
“The cards and flowers might have something to do with how you’re the topic of the moment,” I mused aloud.
“I heard something about that,” Fume Hood said, indicating Crystalclear.
“From me,” Crystalclear volunteered unnecessarily.
“If you guys were to try again, there could be more attention, more support,” I said.
“More gunshots?” Fume Hood asked. “I’m stepping down and going into hiding. I’ll recuperate, let the heat die down, and then figure out what I’m doing.”
“If it matters, I think more people are siding with you than not,” I said.
Fume Hood nodded a few times, taking that in. “Weird.”
“It’s good,” Tempera said. “I think Crystalclear already accepted the offer from Foresight, though.”
“It was a very promising offer.”
“And I’ve been contacted by Attendant. I don’t know what I’ll do with that. And Victoria-”
“Is not having much luck,” I said. “But I want to do something.”
“You were thinking you might go independent?”
“Which doesn’t pay,” I said. “Not in this environment.”
“How does that work?” Fume Hood asked. “If you’re a crook, it’s easy, you take jobs at the villain bar, or you rob some place, or any number of things. You just… go out on patrol?”
“There are a few other things to do,” I said. “One way is to essentially run a protection racket that isn’t a racket. It’s easy for that to go wrong. There’s a higher level effect, which is easier to pull off when, say, a city has a downtown area and the shop owners gather together to pay a wage to the hero that draws attention and has a positive influence on their area…”
“Things have to be stable before that happens,” Tempera said.
“We’re not there yet,” I said. “There’s training and support. Offering powers for helping with the rebuilding, which Auzure was doing a bit of. There’s merchandising, but that’s a dead market right now, I think.”
“We fished in that pond prior to getting underway and we didn’t get any bites,” Crystalclear said.
“I was selling my brain, I know a lot about capes and the community, having grown up with it. That job’s done, and I don’t know if there’s much more opportunity for that.”
“Tell you what,” Tempera said. “I’ll put out feelers. See what people say.”
I nodded. “Sure. Thank you.”
I was lost in thought enough that my retracing of my steps on the way out of the hospital turned me in circles. I approached the same nurse’s station for a second time, and I stopped at the desk, waiting for someone with a spare moment to give me directions.
I wanted to do something.
There weren’t any openings. I was pretty sure Advance Guard had turned me down because of my background, the two year gap prior to Gold Morning. Others had their reasons for rejecting me. As it was, the field was fairly cluttered. Villains were keeping their heads down. As much as there was always going to be the bad guys, like Tempera had said, we didn’t have the systems in place to identify them or address them.
No way to make money off of my powers, to pay the rent and get out of Crystal’s borderline uncomfortably cluttered place.
“Yes?” a nurse asked.
I blinked. I didn’t ask her for directions. My thoughts went in another direction, spurred to life by my thoughts of the unpaid cape work.
“If I said ‘crisis points’, would that mean anything to you?” I asked.
“It’s been a long time since I heard that. Yes, it means something. Do you work with capes?”
“I… kind of am a cape. Would you be open to me giving you a hand?”
“Let me look into it. I’m not sure what the usual methods are, and it’s not fresh in my mind.”
“You’d want to identify the key patients, check with any parents, if they’re under eighteen, and they often are. Then with me, you’d want to check with legal, you can call my references, which I do have on hand…”
The mask wasn’t the quality sort I was used to, more of a Halloween costume. The top I wore was a men’s small, a little too big in the shoulder, while it simultaneously squashed my chest.
From the ages of the patients in the pediatric wing, I wasn’t sure they would pay much mind to my chest, squashed or not. Most were twelve or younger. A few heads turned, people paying cursory attention.
I still wore the skirt I’d worn to the interviews, the belt.
Room 5, bed C.
I entered room five. There were four beds, one in each corner. One monitor was beeping, the other kids were lying down, looking bored.
Bed C was a little girl, with a face chock full of freckles, and sandy blonde hair. The curtains had been partially closed, blocking the views of the boy sitting to her left and the girl sitting across from her.
“Audrey?” I asked, peering in.
I saw only a glimpse of misery on her expression, while she stared off out the window. Then she raised her head and the expression was gone. She assessed me, head to toe.
“Great,” she said, after she was done.
“Ooh, yay, it’s Legend, except he’s a girl now,” she said, sarcastic.
The t-shirt I wore was styled after Legend’s costume. The mask was the same. Something the staff had kept on hand from the past Halloween.
“The nurses pointed me your way,” I said.
“Well, my day sucked, but now fake Lady Legend is here, so I’m all better. That’s great.”
“I can take the mask off if you want,” I said.
“Oh, no, you can’t do that, fake Lady Legend. Your secret identity might be compromised!”
The sarcasm ran strong through this one.
I pulled the curtain closed a bit more, then pulled off the mask, flying a bit as I said, “I never really had the secret identity.”
With that, at least, her eyebrows went up. No smart retort. She moved around her hospital bed, craning her head to see my feet, trying to spot the trick.
“I don’t know you,” she said.
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “The nurses mentioned you’d had an especially bad day.”
Again, that momentary look of misery.
Yeah, I knew that.
“Back before everything turned sour, when I’d come to the hospital, with, um-” I stopped, drew in a breath, and sighed. “It’s something heroes would do. Check in on people who had really bad days. And when I came to the hospital, sometimes I’d do that.”
Crisis points. More a PRT thing than a New Wave thing, but we’d done a small share. Looking out for the recent triggers, putting our faces and names out there, staying in touch with the public.
“A nurse sat down with me for a while,” she said. “No offense, I appreciate it, but I’m kind of talked out.”
“Instead of talking, um,” I said. I showed her what was in my hand, letting the straps dangle. “What would you say about going flying?”
I saw her eyes go wide.
“The hospital called your dad’s work. He said it was okay.”
My feet left the hospital rooftop. Flying was unwieldy, especially with my burden. I was untrained. Having the benefit of my forcefield to protect me in the event of a crash would mean having my forcefield up, and that had other connotations, with my power as distorted as it was, the fact that I couldn’t necessarily control the movements or know what they would do. Not doable, when I held someone.
There was uncertainty too. The source of that flight, it had never let me down, but if push came to shove, in a crisis, would my maneuvering be sloppier? Would I decelerate or accelerate in a different way? I’d carelessly trusted my power, once, and now I wasn’t sure I could. I knew what the source of that power was, now, and what its goals were.
It was emotionally heavy, even as I felt almost weightless physically, to be reminded of what had changed so dramatically.
I could feel my charge’s intake of breath, as I held one arm across her lower ribs. I didn’t trust the harness we’d grabbed from the physio center. Not enough to hold someone for me. She was strapped with her back to my front.
The ground was a good ways below us now. I hadn’t even ascended that fast. I’d been a little lost in thought.
I felt her laugh, nervous and small, while I turned us around, giving her a view of the area. Norfair and its community center was off in the distance, one way. The farms were off in another direction. From here, it was easy to see the tall buildings of the city, the places that looked like a slice of the old world. To look to the fringes of those areas, where the tents and shoddily erected structures stretched off, so endless it seemed they reached to the horizon.
“I got you,” I said, in answer to the nervous giggles. Had I laughed like that, on my first real flight?
“Yeah,” was the response, a small, quiet voice. Then more giggles.
The giggle became laughter on her part, borderline hysterical.
She nodded, fast and fierce, then drew in a deep breath.
“Wooooooooo!” she whooped, top of her lungs, loud enough to be heard on the ground.
“Hood up,” I said, reaching up to tug the hood of her hoodie over her head.
“What? Why?” she asked, panting from the cheer.
“Just in case it’s cold,” I said.
Before she could fully catch her breath, I dropped from our position, diving, fast, hard, and surprising enough that even I felt my stomach’s contents lurch.
She didn’t have the ability to cheer, as the drop stole what little breath she had, but her arms went up and out, to either side of my shoulders, fingers spreading to feel the wind, the sun-warmed air.
I smiled, letting the swoop dash all of the other thoughts and feelings from my mind, vicariously enjoying the experience of flying for the first time. Of flying at all.
“Juan?” I asked.
Juan was younger than the other kids had been. Eight, if I had to guess, but he wasn’t well, so that might have screwed up my estimation. He was thin at the arm and wrist, and puffy around the face.
“The first time I came to the hospital, one of the nurses wore that costume,” Juan said. “He was a guy though.”
“How does it look on me?” I asked.
“I think it looks really nice,” he said. “You’re very pretty.”
“Thank you,” I said. “That’s sweet.”
“Some of the others were saying a lady superhero was going around taking people flying.”
“Yeah,” I said. “That’s the plan. Your mom and dad said you might enjoy it, and you should be well enough.”
“They had to go to work,” Juan said.
“That’s what I heard.”
“They always have to go. Even when I have bad days. And there’s nothing on television. There’s only three channels and they’re real boring.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“I really hate hospitals,” he said.
I took a deep breath. His words echoed my feelings, which only magnified the feelings.
Yeah. I really hated hospitals too.
“It’s getting dark,” I said, “But if you want to try flying, maybe that’d be a bit of a break from the boring stuff, and a break from the hospital.”
“Thank you,” Juan said. “But flying sounds like it’s very tiring.”
“It can be,” I said. “I can go slow if you like, or we can do something else. We could talk.”
He nodded at that last bit, then started looking around. I pulled up a nearby chair, and sat down next to his bed.
“I got a lot of books,” Juan said. He deposited a stack of kids’ books and comics on the edge of the bed, between me and him. “Uh, before. I said I didn’t want to be stuck here and be bored, my mom went and came back with books and comics, and then they both left.”
“That was nice of them,” I said. I picked up one of the books.
“My eyes are tired today,” he said. “The letters are blurry.”
“Do you want me to read some out loud?” I asked.
That got me a firm nod, and the first smile I’d seen out of him.
“Good Simon to start, then?” I asked. Another nod.
There were pictures, so he shuffled over to the edge of the bed, and I sat on the other side, my ass half on the bed’s railing, and I held the book between us, so we could both see it.
Two good Simon books, which were most likely aimed at someone just a bit younger than Juan was, but he didn’t seem to complain. I moved on to a comic involving the robot prison ship, peeking ahead so I could skip past the scenes which were aimed at someone much older than him, and then, to be safe, moved on to something aimed at a younger age again. Kids in animal masks getting into trouble.
There wasn’t much likelihood that Juan had powers, but he’d had a bad day, and this was okay.
I was halfway through that book when I saw someone look in at the door, peeking around. A boy. He stopped as he spotted me.
I finished the page, then paused, partially closing the book, and checking on Juan. Fast asleep. I checked his pulse, because I was paranoid, then fixed his blankets, and eased myself up off the bed with flight, to not disturb him.
I used a notepad by the side of the bed, and wrote a brief farewell:
Nice to meet you, Juan. The nurses have my number so if you want to go flying sometime, we might be able to arrange something. 🙂
I walked over to the door. It wasn’t one of the ones I’d taken a flight with. Older, thirteen or so, with what might have been his first pimples.
I saw the hesitation on his face.
“Come on,” I said. “Let’s go to the cafeteria. It’s late, I don’t think many people will be around.”
“Tempera? Hi, it’s Victoria. I’m sorry to call you so late.”
“It’s fine. I don’t sleep much, and the call is more than welcome. Why the call?”
“I’m at the hospital, talking to someone-”
“You’re still at the hospital?”
“Yes. I’ve been talking to a teenager, he’s listening in on my half of the conversation right now. He’s got a friend with powers, but she’s not doing so hot. It’s new and it’s scary and neither he nor she know what to do.”
“We’ve been there.”
“We’ve been there. Yeah. I know you’re in touch with the Wardens. They’re decent, they have a lot of resources, they have some good people.”
“He can describe particulars and you can let them know.”
“Not a problem. Just so you know, it might be hard to get someone on the phone this late, but if it’s a problem, I know some people I can round up and we can go talk to her as a big supportive group.”
“Great. I’m going to hand you off now.”
“Wait, one second. Victoria.”
“Call me back when this is over, or call me first thing in the morning. I was sounding out some people, it’s not an invite to a team or anything, but with something this messy, we need all the hands we can get.”
“I’ll explain later. For now, we help your buddy there.”
I handed the corded phone over. We stood at an empty nurse’s station in a hallway where the lights had been set dim. My hands were free, and I’d intentionally used their phone so my own would be free.
There were other calls I needed to make, including one to Crystal to let her know where I was. I put that one off. Crystal was easygoing.
I sent one to Mrs. Yamada.
I know your caseload is full, but found a kid with some power-related troubles. Contact is reaching out to Wardens soon. Maybe you can keep an eye out to make sure all goes smooth?
The boy was explaining in a hushed voice about his friend’s circumstance. An uncontrolled, messy power, and she had no place to go. He hadn’t given me many details, but I could tell he was scared, and I could infer from that that she must be terrified.
The reply came back.
Absolutely. I can’t promise I take them as a patient but I can help with initial moves.
I nodded to myself.
The boy was relaxing as he talked on the phone. A distant, authoritative, kind voice, and the promise of some answers or help.
My phone buzzed again.
A patient canceled for later this week. Do you want to meet for a late lunch? There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.