Taylor wiped his hand against the leg of his pants. Behind him, a circle of Grigori’s combat-capable children loaded a Solstice prisoner into a van. The man had struggled, necessitating violence.
The blood was freezing on his fingers. He held onto the sensation. It was something different. Something new. Something to distract from-
Grigori was a fixture. A constant. He would not die.
Whatever the situation, Grigori would not die. He had been the one weak enough to die.
Stef couldn’t stop shaking.
The door to the room that held Grigori was twenty feet away.
And inside, was a man who’d orchestrated things – unintentionally or not – for her to get tortured.
She hugged her arms around herself and pressed her hands to her upper arms. She closed her eyes for a moment, then doubled over and puked against the wall.
She retched twice more, and some of the tears started to shake loose.
There was a knock at the door.
Stef stared at it, wondering if she could fake sleep, disinterest, or simply hide under the covers and pretend she wasn’t home.
Get up, Spyder.
Taylor reached out to steady the punching bag, then took a moment to adjust the wraps on his hands. Magnolia was asleep in her room – they had been…intimate before she had fallen asleep. Careful touches. Kisses. Embraces.
All sensations he had never known he’d needed.
All sensations that he now did not want to be without.
Stars wheeled overhead, filling her entire vision.
Somewhere, far to the left, a purple nebula was blown by a solar wind, and a spiral galaxy spun, spinning countless stars around its central core.
There was a small, polite knock, and Stef blinked. Slowly, she sat up, looking away from the science-magic ceiling of her bedroom, towards the door to her office.
Stef tried to keep pace with Ryan, but his stupidly long legs – at least in comparison to hers – kept him a step ahead. Usually, he seemed to have no problem slowing his pace to keep down with her, but now he seemed…almost excited at the prospect of showing off her new office.
It was situated a couple of hallways away from his – no closer to the recruit quarters, mostly it was near other empty offices and meeting rooms. It was close enough to feel safely close to him, but still somehow far enough away to give her space.
If intentional – and she had no doubt that it was – she was grateful. He was keeping her close, but giving her room to spread her unfortunately metaphorical wings.
‘I knew you needed space.’
Taylor lifted his head, barely taking in the view of the punching bag in front of him, and turned to look at his friend.
‘But I thought you’d make contact.’
Parker-2 lifted the scalpel, and cut into the body again.
Stef shivered as she was shifted out of the tank, soaked skin and the relative cool of the air-conditioned building were not a good mix. That, or it could have been fear.
Yeah, Spyder, it’s probably the fear.
Magnolia watched as the girl was unceremoniously thrown into the tank, her small body splashing water out of the tank, and over the nearly naked Agent Grigori. The blond agent stood there, completely comfortable in what amounted to a very short pair of swimming trunks and a small towel over his broad shoulders. He leaned against the tank and watched the experiment sink, her clothes soaked and pulling her to the bottom.
The shark, for its part, didn’t attack, simply circled the tank, waiting for the order to strike. Taylor circled the tank, and pulled the control pad from its holder – what amounted to a remote control for the sim, turned his back to the tank, and stabbed one thick finger at the controls.