Midnight Shadows Guided Games GENEsis: DOFP Genesis In Character Days of Future Past [SentS] It's a long way down. [Ericka / Sebastian]


01-07-2019
11:39 AM
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01-07-2019, 11:39 AM
[In-Character] [Post #11]
Nursing his whiskey, Sebastian had pulled out his mobile at some point. Manoeuvring his way to WhatsApp he was currently looking at one of the pictures his ex-wife had uploaded into her status. Two sets of identical eyes – his eyes – were looking at the camera and he could hear their laughter even if just in his mind.

Sebastian knew he was setting himself up for a miserable night and what likely ought to be a hangover come morning but he felt his worry about it slip. Whiskey on an empty stomach would generally do that to him. Inhaling deeply, he forced himself to just shut off the app and not proceed to look at the status of his ex-mother-in-law hereafter. It would just be more of the same … so instead he opted to sample more of the whiskey.

He let his mind revisit the day, finding it had gone rather well. They had brought his a group of five mutants not long ago. Just out of their teenage years, they had been causing quite a number of problems. Their rap sheets were long, but nothing more than misdemeanours at least in Sebastian’s opinion. Just that generally no one gave a damn what the lawyers thought. The objective was simple: get the mutant plague off of the streets. So his job was clear, and Sebastian knew better than to ask what happened with those mutants once they had been gotten off the street. At least if he wanted to sleep at night.

And Sebastian had come up with a nice way to wrap it all up, add a bow to it on top, and have the group be submitted to one of the many institutions the Services had at their disposal. He rolled his eyes at himself, not even bothering to ask himself the question about why he felt like someone had pushed him to the bottom of the barrel now.

Sebastian closed his eyes, brought his free hand and rubbed it across his face. He could feel the stubble having grown back along his jawline and up his cheeks – and suddenly he felt like he ought to have had a shower before heading out of the office. A small ugh escaped him. He was familiar with the sensation, knowing it was usually chased by the wish to just be able to get out of his own skin. The custody battle had instilled in him that wish to just get out as an almost permanent fixture. Sarah, his ex-wife, had taken matters a little too far with it. For an attorney, working for the Services no less, to say that did mean something.

He gulped and downed the last bit of whiskey before a voice he knew almost a little too well dragged him out of the beginning spiral of thoughts.

Sebastian sat on a bar stool at the end of the bar, furthest from the door. Elbows were up on the bar top in front of him, and his right hand held the now empty glass at the level of his temple. He just stared at her for a moment as his brain repeated the sound of her voice just then, replaying the words so maybe he could finally comprehend them.

He would have what? It took him a moment to put it together.

I’d have turned down this assignment had I checked the name.

His parting words to her before he had left the interrogation room. Sebastian breathed deep, turned his head away from her just as she scooted back down. He set down his glass, looking for the redhead bartender to ask for a refill. When it became apparent that she would be a few moments, Sebastian turned on his stool towards Ericka. He just gazed at her for a long moment. So little had changed about her. Was her hair lighter? Or had it always been this colour?

Seeing her here, it did something to him. It rattled a cage he had locked and bolted with every chain he had been able to find. At some point he had declared her dangerous terrain. Not because she was actually dangerous, but because once she had shown up in his life he had done things that were neither smart nor advisable for a husband and father of two. None of that had been her fault though. Sebastian did believe himself to be a man who could take responsibility for his actions.

That was why he had done what he had done.
Just that Ericka had never heard the story from him.

He wondered whether he ought to be surprised or even grateful that she was even speaking to him rather than making a scene and pouring her drink down his shirt. That brought forth the memory that during their first encounter here he had worn a white dress shirt. Considering she held something mixed with cola in her hand, he felt relieved to be wearing a black shirt today.

Having set the empty tumbler down at the bar top, Sebastian brought forth the right hand and rubbed it across the lower half of his face before let that hand come to rest on his right thigh. He had no idea what to do with this situation. Still, he just looked at her, knowing she was probably expecting a response by now. Considering some misplaced quip or half-hearted joke, he discarded both notions quickly.

“I’ve no idea what to say to you right now …” Another not so normal thing for a legal person to say.

The redhead was back, and set down a fresh tumbler next to his empty one unprompted. Leave it to her to know.
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01-08-2019
06:58 AM
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01-08-2019, 06:58 AM
[In-Character] [Post #12]
All he did was stare, and she wasn’t sure if she had expected something different out of him. For someone whose profession required him to speak, to argue, to bait forth confessions and truths, the fact that he was simply staring at her was out of character for what he was meant to be. It was somewhat unnerving, for him to be so quiet, so oddly detached. She wasn’t used to his silence unless he wasn’t around her. Something she had somewhat accustomed herself to.

But that had been his choice.

There had been a time when his eyes on her wouldn’t have prompted her skin to prickle like pins and needles just beneath the surface. She would have smiled and simply made every attempt to ignore.

He set his glass down and dragged a hand across his face, trying to gather himself and his thoughts, rubbing over the fine stubble pushing through that she had thought suited him fine. He would chase it with a razor, great care and precision offered enough to leave his jaw clean and smooth without a knick to show for the effort made.

When he finally did speak, she pressed her lips together, gave a single shake of her head and lifted her drink to her lips. She swallowed half the contents before she set the glass back down.

“Of course you don’t.”

A new glass was placed in front of him. Whiskey neat. Fantastic, he was there to get fucked up, but couldn’t have gone for anywhere else to accomplish it.

“Of all the bars in New York, you picked this one.” It wasn’t for the music, she knew that much, or the atmosphere. “I would have thought the hour’s time between that interrogation and now would have given you plenty of opportunity to come up with something other than ‘I have no idea what to say to you right now’, but I suppose that would require you to think of someone other than yourself.”

A bag with her order was set down on the bartop in front of her and she watched the redhead lift her brows and take a full step backward. There was an apology in her eyes, but she couldn’t bring it to her lips to offer to her. She lifted her glass up then. “Can I get one of these to go?

“Normally?” The girl tilted her head. “No. But I’ll make an exception.” Then she flipped through a few cabinets as Ericka polished off the rest of her drink. The girl sighed in frustration, insisted she would ‘be right back’ then disappeared into the back again. So she dug her wallet out and set her credit card out to make her payment.
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01-10-2019
10:45 AM
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01-10-2019, 10:45 AM
[In-Character] [Post #13]
This was unpleasant. Served up to her on a silver platter, basically. Sebastian wondered what in the name of God had made him choose this place. It had been the place where he had …met her back then. It had been her place. So why follow the damned sentimentality of sugarcoated memories? Why let himself be led by a misguided need to take a trip down memory lane?

It all came back around now, the filters yanked away. And it lay there in Ericka’s eyes. Harsh and true. He had fucked it up. He had hurt so many people in the process it was a surprise his ex-wife had not managed to bankrupt him on top of taking his children away. And more than that, he had lied to Ericka and then he had gotten her tangled up in his mess. Right before he had just walked out on her, leaving her high and dry. Barely an explanation given.

Quite the surprise, he told himself, that she was talking to him instead of throwing punches. He would have certainly deserved one, or five. With a chair. To the head.

Her tone was so cold, so resigned to what she had to believe was the truth about one Sebastian Strucker. It hurt more than he wanted to admit to himself. Right up until now, he had dealt with the topic of Ericka by not dealing with it. He had just avoided it. In the way that just asked for trouble. Her number now sat under ‘Velez’ in his contacts. He had stuffed the few things of her she had left with him – a scarf, a pair of gloves, a shirt, thick fluffy sucks, and the pillow she had been sleeping on – into a box and shoved it into the darkest and farthest corner of his closet. The photos of her, of them, were still on his phone, placed in a folder of their own where there were out of his way.

And yet, he knew of these things. Knew of their presence, and they constantly were the darn elephant in the room. He did not need to look at the photos, or open that box to have her perfume still waft up at him. He did not need to hover his thumb over her name … she was somewhere on his mind most of the time anyway. It was whenever Sarah and he crossed paths that his ex-wife would scoff at him, her expression sour and angry, so very angry. She’s on your mind again, Sarah would say and everything would go downhill from there.

Sebastian looked at the new glass and contemplated knocking back all of its content in one go. He most certainly felt like it. And yet, he mustered up restraint. If he had wanted to get shit-faced, he should have just picked up a bottle at the Seven Eleven and headed home. Ericka spoke up again, continuing with that tone in her voice and pointing out that he just had had to pick this bar. Sebastian nodded at this.

Part of him urged for him to stop her. Just ask her to shut it and leave him in peace. He had not come here for a scene. Had she ignored him, just gotten her drink and her food, he would have probably not even noticed her. Think about anyone other than himself, ouch, he almost winced. That stung. But she could not know, could she? That he had retreated when he had to spare her Sarah’s scrutiny. Ericka had always kept certain things close to herself. Things he had known better than to press for. Sarah would not have stopped. She would have dug up anything and everything only to make Sebastian lose more.

It had eventually been solely about that, he remembered with regret. The amount of things his wife could make him lose in the process of the divorce. Family, friends, livelihood, and even his place to live had not been enough. She had wanted to take Ericka down with him. Take down in the sense of take apart. Sarah had been on a warpath.

“I guess so”, was all he said to this.

Sebastian threw another gaze at his glass. Again that urge to just knock it back. And maybe he ought to. Maybe he ought to just drink away the inhibition of morale and supposedly knowing better. Maybe it was time to tell her that he knew how much of an asshole he had been to her by using a darned text to break it off. There were teenagers who knew better than that!

Ericka was in the process of getting her food to go, bringing out her wallet and with it her credit card. Sebastian resisted the urge to offer to pay for it. She would not have it, and he had to admit that the move would only belittle her. So instead, he did pick up the glass, did knock it back in one go, which did make the redheaded bartender look at him from beyond the kitchen entrance just for a moment and retreat again. Had she just been in the process of coming back out?

“Listen”, he said, then amended with a softer “please”. This was no begging, it was simply curtesy. One could say what they wanted about him, but he did have manners.

“Could you stay? Can we talk?” And as the words slipped past his lips he already knew how small the chance for a positive answer were. She had every right to laugh at him, ridicule his request given that he had never extended her the curtesy before. In that case, his manners had been left in a drawer and not been looked at once. And knowing he could not have broken things off with Ericka had he gone to see her did nothing in his favour.

The level of bittersweet in all of this was making him crave another drink. That first time here, they had even shared a meal. Her meal. The one she was now getting to go…
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01-15-2019
05:49 AM
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01-15-2019, 05:49 AM
[In-Character] [Post #14]
She slipped her arm through the bag’s handles and made a conscious effort to not tap her credit card on the bartop. There was an urge to look down the length of the bar and towards the kitchen as though she could will the redhead back out with her drink so she could pay and leave. Perhaps asking for a to-go cup had been a bad idea. It had seemed a good plan in the moment, taking what she had wanted from the bar, along with her order, and leaving Sebastian behind with his ridiculously silent self. He thought he could shack up at her bar. Great. He could sit there all by himself, or maybe hit on the next cute patron to walk through the door. Maybe he could muster the nerve to warn them first, that he was a mess, that he would bow out once they were hooked on the line.

The sound of his voice called her back around, and she hated him for it. She hated that the sound of it could chase gooseflesh across her skin because she wanted to hear it, that it could bring her to pause, that it could bait her curiosity and her compassion to the surface. She hated that it made her feel anything even remotely related to reminiscence. It was healthier for her mind to sever itself from the sensation, regardless of how enabling, how so much like feeding an addiction that it was to circle back.

Her lips pressed together and she bit at them, trying to keep from snapping back in response, even in the wake of his ‘please’. Stay, a request, to talk. She wasn’t sure he knew how to do that.

The girl moved towards her, Styrofoam cup in hand and took her card when she handed it over. She ran it through the register, and offered a tight nod of her head before she disappeared back into the kitchen through the pair of swinging doors. Normally there was an offering up of the rest of the week’s specials for her to choose from to finish out the last couple of work days. Sebastian at the bar and the pitch he had worked her into chased the only normalcy she was accustomed to back into a corner.

“You want me to stay and talk?” She narrowed her eyes slightly as she turned to take in his appearance once more. Casual, him, the him beneath the mask of the suit. The glass beside his fingers empty once more.

She exhaled through her nose, a bitter smile tugging at one side of her mouth as she looked at her bag and white to-go cup. Hopefully it had been filled with far more captain than it had soda. She was going to need a full helping, and potentially a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to rot her into a food coma for the evening.

“I’m sure that you still have my number, you’re not stupid enough to delete it and pick up a nameless call.” She lifted the bag from the counter. “If you have something important to say to me,” she flipped her free hand somewhat exasperated, “why don’t you just shoot me a text?” Because that was how it was done, right? That was easiest, less confrontation that way.

“I’ll even flip it onto vibrate,” she said as she thumbed the edge of her phone at her pocket, “just for you.” Then she turned and made her way through the front door.
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01-15-2019
10:16 AM
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01-15-2019, 10:16 AM
[In-Character] [Post #15]
Had he seen this coming? Sebastian knew it was foolish to say no. Ericka had every right to reject whatever came out of his mouth. That she was even giving him the time of day right now was a surprise. He sighed when she rephrased his question and made it sound more like an accusation than anything else. He did not need to nod or react in any other way. The question was rhetorical and he had one coming for him yet.

The way her eyes narrowed ever so slightly made him see that she probably wanted to throw hell of a lot more at him than just her food and drink right now. Sebastian knew, better than anyone, he had messed this up. On all levels. He had begun an affair and it had cost him dearly. When he had decided to not call her and to not see her anymore, Sebastian had felt like for once he had managed to get himself on the proper path. Doing the right thing. He needed to end it, at least until the divorce was finalised.

In hindsight … The one person who would have stuck it out with him was standing right in front of him now. And he had driven her away like everyone else.

Sebastian let his gaze shift and drop to the empty glass on the bar. He yearned for a refill. Drink it all away – go home without knowing what his last name was anymore. Now that would be a pleasant change of things for once. His eyes found the red head one’s and from her gaze he knew that she would not serve the third whiskey even if he called for it.

Well, it was better this way.

Or was it?

He looked back at Ericka – and just that small moment when his eyes once more settled on her created a real physical response in him. Something in his chest tightened, yearned to prompt memories buried under layer upon layer of work, delusion, play pretend and whatever else could be used to slap an ever thicker cover onto what he had originally felt for Ericka Velez.

Sebastian knew that he had been the driving force in all of this. She spoke and her words hit home, each one of them. Of course he still had her number. It still sat there on his phone, beckoning him to use it – in any manner different to the way he had used it in last time. And as if she picked that up from within his thoughts, Ericka mentioned him shooting her a text. Sebastian exhaled, and closed his eyes for a moment. Letting his head drop, he nodded. He deserved that.

He looked up at her eventually, not lifting his head back all the way, and just saw her as she turned to leave. It felt like she was the heat in the center, leaving a negative outline for him to stare at. Carrying her bag, food and drink out and away from him, Sebastian just sat and looked after her. The images in his mind did nothing to make this any easier.

That smile on her face as she laughed out loud, without inhibition, holding nothing back. She threw her head back, and the laughter rocketed through her upper body. He flung his arms around her, held her.

Using the skillet to point out that he had forgotten to chop the red bell pepper. Then she went into explaining to him at lengths about why the recipe could not work without that bell pepper. Sebastian nodded, grinned. He picked up a knife and went about chopping.

Her sleepy glance in the morning. Dark strands a wild frame around her face as she lay there half-buried in the white soft fabric of his bedsheets. That way she looked at him … as if he was the only man on this planet.

Sebastian turned to look at the redhead behind the bar. He wanted another drink. But Donna, that was her name, was it not, just stepped up to him and took the empty tumbler off the bar top. “They’re on the house”, she said, her voice soft, somewhat understanding but still chastising in such an odd manner. “You won’t be able to do anything about this if you drown it in whiskey.” Then she turned and went back to her job, acting as if he was not even there.

He took another few moments, looking back at the door through which she had left. Sebastian could still feel the outline there, almost as if she left a trail of something light, something alive for him in an environment that had so often been dominated by so many increments of grey.

Eventually, Sebastian slipped off of the bar stool, picked up his jacket and donned it. The alcohol had loosened him up, and it was almost like there was a spring in his step. Before he knew it, he stood outside, gazing left and right. Then he pushed his hand into his pocket and fished out his phone. Short-dial. She still owned #8.

What was he doing?

Sebastian felt a little as if he was staring across the ledge of a pool that was deep and dark. He could not see the ground, wondered what was down below.

But before he could stop himself, it rang.

Had he just jumped?
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01-17-2019
05:48 AM
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01-17-2019, 05:48 AM
[In-Character] [Post #16]
Walking away from him was always difficult, even when she was angry and every fiber of her being wanted to be away. She had already allowed him enough just by letting him see her affected by his presence and his voice. Too much. Even back in that room, her personal issues with him had threatened to push through and spill into something they were meant to and had always kept professional.

But he had left her with nothing.

It was her own fault, she continually tried to remind herself. He had not told her that first night that he was married, or the second, but once he had, he had put out on the table what she would step into if she pursued anything with him beyond that single encounter was. She had left, and he had allowed her to. When she had stepped foot back to his door three days later, she had known exactly what she was doing. What she was risking. What she was potentially doing to herself and the people around him by stepping into the way of pursuit.

This is your own fault.

It was a silent chant, some strange self-imposed reprimand from a voice in her head that she had locked in a box while she had had him.

She had only made it a block into a thin throng of people when her feet paused at a corner without stepping off the curb, a passerby clipping her shoulder with his, a robotic apology offered in response.

Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she looked up at the crossing indicator in anticipation of it turning green, intent on ignoring whatever half-assed attempt at a text he could muster until she got home. Because the last one he had ever sent her had been such a work of art. When it continued to vibrate, she tried to ignore it, until it started blaring the chorus to The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, and reminded herself that it could literally be anyone, including the night staff at the lab. When she slipped it out of her pocket and brought it up for inspection, she pressed her eyes shut to block out the sight of ‘Sebastian’ on the caller ID.

She pressed her finger against the red button and slid it across the bottom of the screen to decline the call. She stared at the dark glass screen for too long and her grip around the thin item tightened.

It was a trying feat to push it back into her pocket without dialing back.

She stepped into the crosswalk with the dozen other people around her and crossed to the other side, putting even further distance between her and the bar, between her and him. It wasn’t fair. He shouldn’t have even been there. The questioning was one thing, but he went to her bar afterward. How long had he sat there, beckoning for his whiskey neats. Her footing hesitated, intent on turning right back around and…and…no. There were so many things that she wanted to say to him, though, so many verbal constructs of her emotions that she wanted to unload just to see if that would pry them off the edges of her heart.

“No.” She breathed.

He had been drinking. She had been equally so. It didn’t matter how much, it simply mattered that it had happened and it was already seeping into her bloodstream.

She stepped closer once more to the edge of the curb and flagged down a cab. When one pulled to the side, she climbed in without giving herself a chance to back out, tugging the door shut behind her. She gave her address and the driver took off from the spot, she let her head tilt back against the rest, and the tissues in her chest twisted into a multitude of knots.

There had been a point when she had thought he would stay, that she would matter, and she had let herself believe it. Stupidly. When tears raced up into her eyes desperate to be free, she lifted her hand and set it across them as though she could stave them back with her touch and will alone.
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01-17-2019
02:24 PM
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01-17-2019, 02:24 PM
[In-Character] [Post #17]
There was that moment to accept defeat. Sebastian let his hand sink as her voice instructed him to leave a message after the beep. Pushing the button on the display, he ended the call. There was nothing to say. Sebastian just stood there, a few feet from the sidewalk’s edge staring into the direction his mind was certain she had taken off into.

And only now, as he remained unmoving – unable and unwilling to set one foot in front of the other – did he notice how much faster his heart was beating. His mind continued to yank forward the moment that night – the one in which he had typed out that text to her, had hit sent and had … done what? He had not just cut her off, no apology or justification. He had rid himself of the chance to explain to her.

That much he had owed her. And yet, everything else had appeared so much more daunting at the time that he had just hung her out to dry.

Sebastian shoved his hands into his jacket pockets as he was beginning to feel the night’s chill. He stepped forward, eventually bringing one hand back out as he hailed down a cab. He was home just fifteen minutes later. Kicking off his shoes and jacket, he dropped his phone onto the coffee table before helping himself to another serving of Whiskey.

Sitting at the kitchen counter, looking across it to the tall windows beyond it, he let his gaze drift to the picture he had hung up on the wall. Andy and Lauren. His twins. He swallowed, forcing himself to look away, to drink the amber liquid lest he take the tumbler and send it flying.

The whiskey burned its way down his throat.

Two days later.

“Mr. Strucker?”
“Not now, Lisa. I’ve got to be downstairs in two.”
“The investigator has just rung a third time.”
Sebastian exhaled, looking up at the cute blonde who had now taken up position in the room leading into his office. He had an assistant. Lisa. She was nice, not a day over twenty and as wet behind the ears as they came. She had some idealist idea about what the Services got up to. Sebastian doubted that she knew any mutants at all.

“Lisa, please, be so kind and tell him to file all findings as usual.”
“He says it’s urgent.”
“They always say it’s urgent.”

With that Sebastian slapped the manila folder in front of him shut. He powered down his tablet and put it into his top drawer. “Please cancel my three o’clock. I doubt I will be back by then.” Sebastian had been ambitious when taking on that appointment. He knew better than to assume he was good for anything on the days he got one of his shots.

“And Lisa …” he addressed her. The girl stuck her head back through the door. “Yes?” He smiled at her, doing his best to dissipate the irritation he sometimes felt with her. “Go home early today.”
She nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Strucker. I will. Have a good afternoon.”

“You, too”, he said, took his jacket from the back of his chair and donned it. Buttoning the top two buttons, he stepped around his desk and after Lisa. Another nod to her, and he was out of the door. Rolling his shoulders, he was already uncomfortable just thinking about what would come next. The version of the suppressant he received carried none of the nasty side-effects of the version for the mutants. And yet, afterwards he usually felt like a truck had run him over.

Ten minutes later, Sebastian found himself five storeys down, two of which already underground. The lighting was awful down here, and he wondered how anyone could last here longer than two hours and not go insane. The offices he were headed to lacked the usual neat and bold lettering explaining what went on behind these doors. Not that the terms ever gave away much. Sebastian wondered whether no one had yet thought of a better name for the Reverting Mutants to Humans department.

For all intents and purposes, Sebastian knew he was no baseline. Offering his considerable experience, knowledge and skill in the legal field along with an agreement to completely suppress his abilities was what had bought him the rather pleasant life he now led. The price for it appeared acceptable. All it took was getting these shots …

A door slid open – the same as usual – and Sebastian stepped through into a room that was kept in muted tan and grey tones. He took a seat just as a figure emerged from the other side of the room. “Mr. Strucker?” He looked up. New guy. Around thirty? Looking like he had never worked a day in his life. “Yes?”

“Please follow me.”

Sebastian nodded, stood back up and did as asked.
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01-18-2019
06:53 AM
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01-18-2019, 06:53 AM
[In-Character] [Post #18]
She had stared at Andrea Stock far longer than had been necessary when she had delivered a new suppressant concoction earlier in the day. The other woman had prattled on endlessly that she was sure her department had created a version that posed little in the way of volatility-and better that the body would not initially recognize the foreign substance until it was too late to rally a defense-and the thinner viscosity would allow for smaller needles, which in turn meant easier injection. The blonde had hummed about the possibility to load a far smaller dart that could potentially connect without immediate detection. When Ericka had asked about dialing back the side effects, Andrea had scoffed and all but threw her head back and laughed.

There were humans that wanted to be safe, and there were humans that wanted the scary mutants to suffer. The likes of Andrea Stock were under the brainwashed assumption that mutants chose to be what they were, which was exceedingly odd for a scientist that knew better. They should be able to control themselves like any normal person. Only mutants weren’t ‘normal’ people. Each of her colleagues were ardent supporters of the theory of evolution, yet they balked at the idea that human mutants were a step forward. They were defective, apparently, a broken offshoot that would either be absorbed, would disappear, or be eradicated. Like the Neanderthals.

Stupid.

Still, she had taken the sample, assured Andrea she would have the first batch of responses completed before she left. Thankfully, the blonde had apparently taken ill after lunch and had gone home early.

The blood sample labeled L-297 played accordingly; the majority of the cells did not react to the sudden presence of the suppressant until it was burrowing beyond the proteins of the cell wall. She had pushed back away from the microscope when she realized it wasn’t even a suppressant. It didn’t minimize or incapacitate the cells, it sought to hijack them. When she returned to further observation, half the cells started deteriorating.

The urge to throw the serum across the room was overwhelming, but that would leave evidence and traces of it for collection and replication.

She plucked up the serum vial and pushed away from her desk.

David looked up form his work, a question in the way that he quirked his eyebrow, but she said nothing as she moved out into the hallway, reaching for and tugging the black labcoat from the corner hook. She slid it onto herself and curled the vial against her palm.

There was the option to incinerate it, then she would have to come up with an explanation as to what had happened to the contents and the vial. She could draw the serum out and dispose of it in an acid receptacle. Then there was the matter of whatever was left clinging to the inside of the vial. She huffed as she pushed through a multitude of other options. She didn’t have time to pull apart sequencing lines to adapt quickly enough and mutate a reaction, and then replicate the damaged result.

She could just say that she dropped it. Knocked it clean off the edge of the desk. It was stupid, sure, but so very human in such a manner of error.

The elevator took longer than she had imagined but she selected a floor above to find James. If she was lucky, he was wandering around like a useless monkey. He could tell her to calm the fuck down and perhaps she could actually adhere to the advice. It was becoming exceedingly trying the last months to keep to what she had agreed to when Tony had asked her to stay. Even when he was no longer there. The Services were no longer intent on just suppressing mutants or curbing the development of mutation, they wanted to wound then, break them, destroy them with their own mutations.

She could just leave and not ever come back. Step into one of the few offices on the floor, and poof. Just disappear. Back to her apartment. Then…then…what?

Sabotage.

She pushed the first door open and stepped into the mini exam room and went directly for the fridge. She drew out a syringe, equipped it with a filter needle and reached for the first dose of suppressant4. She drew air back, then injected it into the bottle and drew back as much of the product as she could. Her motions froze the moment the door behind her pushed open and a voice insisted another person enter, ‘after you’.
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01-18-2019
11:04 AM
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01-18-2019, 11:04 AM
[In-Character] [Post #19]
Sebastian did not really pick up on the exchange between the young lab assistant that had lead him into the exam room and the woman standing there by the fridge. He noticed that she looked a little like deer caught in the headlights but if anything he attributed it to his own appearance here. Sebastian did feel rather a lot like a deer caught by oncoming headlights himself.

Mutants had never been much of a topic between them. He had never confessed to his own. She was a baseline human after all – and the both of them worked on that side of the fence. For the Services. That could often be equated to against mutants. The idea that a fair number of them actually worked for the Services often eluded many. Some with their powers active – Sebastian had about three private investigators at his disposal at any time. All of them possessed an active mutant-gene. And then there were those like him.

Willing to live the life of a human through any means. Even enduring the nasty side effects of the suppressant. It did not help that they were working on that, reducing the effects. They were still there, and he knew he would remain useless for the rest of the day. Yet, it felt like a rather small price to pay …

Would she know just what these rooms were for? What kind of examination would be done here and what was waiting for him in the injection he was about to receive? Well of course she did. She probably had higher clearance in these matters than he did.

Sebastian did not say anything. He just looked at Ericka, and her sight made something in his chest tighten and ache. He exhaled, remembering the night earlier during the week. He could not remember how he had gotten to bed that night – and come next morning he had had to take aspirin for the headache. But other than that, it appeared he had been a good boy. Mostly.

Nothing was broken. And no drunk-dialling. Just a single drunk text.

[Please, Ericka, hear me out. S.]

He had found the text on his phone when he had unlocked the screen first thing the subsequent morning. The app noted the text as read, but there had been no answer from her. Again, with the damned texts. Sebastian exhaled, and shrugged out of his suit jacket. He wore a crisp white dress shirt, complete with the tan to match his suit. He loosened it and then pulled the tie away from around his neck.

Picking the first chair there was, he hung the suit jacket and then the tie across the back of it. He undid the first two buttons of his shirt, his eyes never leaving Ericka. Drawn to her like a moth to a flame, he realised only now how much the image of her face and the sound of her voice had been lingering in the back of his mind since their encounter after the incident on the roof. Like someone had pulled away the lid from that Pandora’s Box and with no further instructions now left him to figure out this mess.

“Ms. Velez, Dr. Connor appears to be running late”, the lab assistant addressed Ericka. “Would you be able to administer Mr. Strucker’s shot? I’m sure he would like to get back to his office as soon as possible.” The man looked at Sebastian, who in turn just nodded and shrugged at the same time. He would not return to his office today – even less now. He swallowed hard against a lump forming in his throat.

“I’ll be right back”, the man announced as he snuck through yet another door.
Sebastian sat on the chair, looking up at Ericka. His hands rested flat on his upper thighs. “This isn’t awkward at all…”, he murmured.
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01-18-2019
05:58 PM
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01-18-2019, 05:58 PM
[In-Character] [Post #20]
Ericka hesitated and recapped the filter needle to keep from potentially stabbing herself with it. Then she slipped the syringe, the serum, and the suppressant bottle into her coat pocket while she attempted to train her focus on the lab assistant rather than the individual with him. He was speaking to her, but the words didn’t string together right in her mind, mostly because he was in the Conversion wing of the floor with Sebastian.

She watched him shrug out of his jacket, almost dumbfounded by what her brain was trying to make connections to. She knew where she was, she knew why she was there. That he was taking anything off had her swallowing at the prospect that her thoughts could conjure, because she knew those motions so well. His hands went to the tie, loosening it from its placement around his neck. He set both discarded items over the back of the nearest chair and she realized he was watching her watch him.

Derek-she knew that was his name- said her name and shook her enough to tear her eyes away from Sebastian long enough to acknowledge the fact that she was being spoken to. Dr. Connor was running late. Willem Connor. Doctor of genetic studies, who was sometimes her boss.

Administer Mr. Strucker’s shot.

She frowned slightly and felt her pulse kick hard in her chest.

Derek handed her a thin folder as he excused himself, assuring that he would be right back.

Then she looked once more at Sebastian. This was not how she had ever imagined having been caught in the act of countering Services actions. The one saving grace was that neither individual that had found her had any inclination to ask why she was actually there that she couldn’t lie her way out of. Derek, at least, was still new and afraid to anger anyone, so he would likely back down rom any rebuttal she offered were he to inquire. Sebastian’s presence nagged at her, though, regardless, simply by him being present.

Attempting to rein in her thoughts, she flipped open the sparse folder and found a face sheet waiting; his name, birthday, his blood type. The bottom of the page indicated suppressant form. Thirteen, lucky number. The least accessory damaging.

She thought about the text he had tried to push through to her. Hear me out. She shook her head and then once more looked at him.

“What is this?” It barely escaped her. She could put it together in her head, it made sense when she aligned all the pieces, all the evidence that the span of a few minutes had presented to her. She immediately looked at his left shoulder, tried to recall every time he had every massaged it, rotated it an extra few motions. Just like he had in that questioning room a few days prior.

Three to four days before suppressant 13 started to fail.

Of all the information that her clearance allowed her access to, she had never delved into his files because that was not something you were supposed to do when you were sleeping with someone. That created distrust and suspicion and questions and –

She swallowed again and then glanced at the fridge.

Suppressant.

“Please tell me this is not what I think it is.” She finally formed the splintered pieces of her reaching thoughts into words, still struggling to grasp at it even when it was exceedingly obvious. He was what he worked against, apparently internally as much as externally.

No.
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