“Don’t,” Rebecca snapped at me. I looked up and took in her intent gaze. I pondered my options: enter the gazing contest or chew on another bite of chicken Caesar salad. I opted for the middle ground. Dropping my fork, I sunk into the high-back cushioned bench and took a sip of Coke. The restaurant’s clatter hid my silence.
I obviously knew what she was referring to. Though she wouldn’t read my mind outside our shift, we shared brains 40 hours a week. It was more than enough for her to follow my trail of thought.
“It’s the only way,” I answered, fixing my resolve on her.
I knew she was right. She knew I was too. We both begrudged a situation we couldn’t fight against. I didn’t want to dive with a reluctant partner or an unfamiliar telepath. She didn’t want me to go. The risks ran high and so did the pressure and the need for results. I had almost lost myself once today trying to piece together the events leading to the Times Square bombing. She had saved me.
“I don’t want you to turn into another Wayne.”
Her worries froze me. In a flash, I relived the moment when my old co-worker jumped me with his letter opener. Turning that way didn’t sound like a viable option but if I wasn’t willing to take my chances, thousands of people would die. After quite literally feeling their pain to come, how could I be selfish enough not to try to save them?
“Don’t let me do this with a stranger.”
She winced. Apparently, the thought of leaving me alone was as unbearable for her as it was for me. I’m not the dependant type and neither is she. The relationship between psychics and telepaths weirds a lot of people out. Chief among them? The close-minded boyfriends. The fact remains that spending so much time in sync with someone is bound to make you feel stronger when you’re together. We were partners and we wouldn’t let each other down.
“I can do this,” I let out with what I hoped was a reassuring smile.
“It’s more that no one else can,” she answered.
Spot on. Not that I liked it…
The sun had deserted the sky for a few hours and so had the people our office. Most of them, anyway. Rebecca and I walked toward the conference room where Daniel, our boss, expected us. He hadn’t been surprised by our call. In fact, he sounded relieved we were willing to do this. If we hadn’ t come forward, he’d never have asked even though this was the only viable solution.
We stopped dead on the threshold of the room. Rebecca stiffened, sensible to the foreign, stressed out thoughts. I blinked a couple of times to make sure my eyes where registering everything right.
The familiar conference room was transformed into some alien command center. My chair throned in the middle of the place with medical paraphernalia alongside. A few desks with computers surrounded it. Daniel and Aaron conversed in the corner. Actually, “argued” sounds more like it. FBI agents with communication headsets chatted. One of them, I recognized as Agent Grey. Sweet…
Rebecca put a subtle hand on the small of my back so I could receive her thoughts and not just the other way around.
“Daniel’s pissed,” she broadcasted to open our silent conversation.
That, I could have guessed. The two men hunched toward one another, fighting for supremacy. The tension flared every other minute.
“Aaron thinks you’re weak.”
My own anger spiked for a second but I reined it in. The FBI operators glanced sideways at us. Best behaviour was a must.
“Daniel’s defence is epic. No way is he not winning.”
She relayed the information straight from the source, really impolite of her but how satisfying for my curiosity. My boss sounded just like me; he used the arguments I told myself to keep going forward with this.
I’m the only agent fluent in Arabic. I already sniffed that trail and braced myself against its worst parts… Wait a minute… Those were actually my words he was using.
“That’s rude, boss.” I thought.
I received his mental smirk through Becky and he added “perceptive and incredibly quick” to his checklist of arguments.
“I guess it’s us against them,” my partner commented before cutting off our connection. She walked to my chair with long, confident strides. I tried my hand at a disingenuous pose against the wall. Enough eyes flirted to me already; I needed a moment before wilfully stepping in the center of attention. I breathed deeply, trying to repurpose the anxiety caused by the unfamiliar setting into energy I could store up for later tonight.
Agent Grey stood up and grabbed a pile of clothes from the corner of his desk. He angled toward me but before he could take a step, my boss parted with the FBI liaison, snatched the clothes and made a beeline for me. Agent Grey looked like an idiot for a few seconds. Then, his brain registered the interruption and he sat back to his desk. I smiled.
Without a pause or a word, Daniel reached me, grabbed my elbow and towed me out of the room.
“They want you to put this on,” he finally said. Anger and worry slithered through his tone. I was mostly intrigued and slightly uneasy. I took the clothes from his hands.
“What’s with the crazies in there?” He shot me a disapproving look. Okay, may be my comment was a little over the top but so was the circus around my chair.
“What can I say? It’s the first time we even come close to stopping something this big. They’re losing their marbles.”
And since the clothes I hold in my hand looked like a mental patient gown, they thought I’d lost mine to. Or they were expecting me to. I arched a quizzical eyebrow. He shrugged overloaded shoulders. We exchanged a stiff smile and I started out for the bathroom.
I wouldn’t change my mind now, but I would definitely change theirs.