being pissed off about it, and being grateful for something to do. He
sure as hell hadn't wanted to stay in Rakashi's office after that
conversation, and didn't have any urge to be around any
officer for a while. That was the only thing keeping him from
seeking out Demi and his amusing abuse.
was all still too much to process. He sort of wished that he'd asked
for the "military truth" instead, but he got the feeling he
knew what that was: a glossy, sugar-coated lie. More and more, the
general's attitude was understood.
he distracted himself with making copies. Like the Tower needed any
more paper copies of anything. The machine he'd been standing at for
twenty minutes was definitely older than he was by a handful of
years, and may have been spouting out a print every five seconds. (And
he did count, considering he had nothing better to do.) Not to
mention the odd pauses for no reason that he cared to know.
urge to slam his head against the machine was suddenly quite strong.
There were menial tasks, and then there was torture. He finally
snatched one of those pages as it came out (hot rather than
just warm, hm) and looked at it. For quite a number of
the page, he stared a little longer, then turned it over. Ignoring
the large warning on the side of the copier, he lifted the top panel
and took the original document from the blinding light. When his
eyes once again adjusted, he actually saw what he was copying... and
felt the urge to slam someone else's head into the machine.
In yellow text was
hand-written, The copier can't pick up
yellow, can it? Might as well stick those 'copies' back into the
paper tray, then.
was too confused to be angry. He hadn't even known that was
upon returning to
looked up with surprising patience as he closed the door behind him
with quite a bit more force than necessary. "That was faster
than I expected."
just smart like that." Came sharply from his mouth before he'd
realized it. Yes, he should apologize. He felt just a little bad
have just dismissed me instead of all that?"
"Why? So you could go obsess
about the information I gave you?"
the hell did she know about what he would have done? Okay, likely
would have done.
was going to do. Not the point. "It's not exactly casual
information." Rean pointed out, placing the original page on
the desk amid the random sketched-on paperwork.
it's not." She agreed.
asked later, he may have claimed to have been possessed. He had no
idea exactly what came over him at that moment. It was rage, a
driving anger that bordered along something akin to hatred--though
his hatred of what, exactly, he wouldn't have been able to
explain either. "How do you take this? What the hell makes
you so fucking casual all the time?! If you know what's going
on, then why are you still so goddamn--"
"Rean." One word. One easily
calm, softly spoken word.
stopped him effectively. And it was definitely not anything like
what he would have expected. He'd just yelled at a general. At her,
Rakashi who was known for physically throwing people out
her office for far less. And yet she didn't seem upset in the least.
Had the rage not still had so much control of his mood, he'd have
been afraid for his life. "Yes?"
ask questions that you don't want the answer to."
blinked. Great, helpful advice. He still didn't know what to think
about her reaction, but as for her words... "I think I'd like
to know, though."
placed her chin in her hand for a moment, pondering. Trying to work
something out, it looked like. "Right now, I have my reasons
for being here. As for the rest..." Once again the general
appeared to be working something out, lost in an internal debate
before she finally continued. "What are you doing this
eyes widened. He couldn't have actually heard that. For a moment,
he was almost stricken with the panic that Demi had finally gotten
into his head or something. "Pardon, sir?"
lips quirked ever so slightly. "I mean, do you have some time
this afternoon to devote to having your question answered? No cars
Words. He knew words, didn't he?
Yes, this was his language. He
remembered words like "stupid" and "confusing"
and "idiot" easily enough; he just lacked the ability to
express them. Luckily, his mouth responded long before his brain was
able. "Sure. Okay."
he could have done. That certainly seemed to be a pattern lately. He
was used to the pattern. It was comforting... sort of.
it was complete insanity, and he knew that. The last time he'd
followed her hadn't gone over so well, and had very literally only
been a few dozen hours ago. He was, officially, a moron. Never
again should he criticize Demi. Well, maybe once or twice, when he
really earned it.
corridor they were walking down reminded him of old horror movies. It
was just a few floors away, and while it was well toward the back
of the building, it seemed particularly abandoned. The smell
of dust and disuse was everywhere, but at least he didn't see
anything scurrying around. Rean had long since lost track of the
turns, but he did know that they were basically headed away from the
Oh. Spoke the part of his
mind that wasn't numb with stupidity. She's
probably taking me to the place where she kills people who ask too
many questions. Wonderful.
the truth was even more frightening. She counted, out loud, the
number of office doors they passed. "Four, five, six. Sixth
door, sixth floor, sixth hall." She seemed particularly amused
by that fact as she turned a real live door knob. No codes, no card
slides, no clearances--just a door.
door that swung open on what Rean recognized as an old office...
which seemed to have been utterly ransacked. There was one enormous
desk that had been turned on its side and looked to have all sorts of holes
in it... the lamps and walls not having fared much
better. "So... what is this place?" he finally managed to
forgotten." Rakashi responded, as if that answered everything.
you seen this on any maps?" Flicking on light switches (as the
overhead lights more or less seemed intact and working), she
continued to explain. "It's a forgotten portion of the
building. They were going to rebuild before the war, but... well. Funds
were needed elsewhere and they turned out to never need this
space, so. Even records won't show it."
word "hideout" came to mind. He was suddenly trying not to
laugh. "Well, um... this answers my question how?"
snorted, going to the corner and opening a very dented closet door.
From inside she retrieved something that Rean would never have
accurately guessed--a bow and a quiver of arrows. "You may be
surprised just how satisfying making holes in things actually is."
assistant was just a little too busy trying to figure out when he'd
started hallucinating to catch anything but the sound of the
first arrow hitting the desk. He doubted that his brain would ever
actually catch up. "How long have you been doing this?"
distinct thunk-twing of an arrow landing in the side of the
desk sounded before her response. "It's been a few years." Rakashi
glossed over, pulling another steel-tipped arrow.
yes. He would win the prize if there were one--but Demi would be the
runner-up for sure. "Can I try?"
raised an eyebrow and glanced over at him as she was lining up
another shot, pulling her arm back smoothly. "Ever shot with a
haven't even shot with a gun before, general." Why there
was the slightest humor in his voice, he just couldn't
it got her to make a small, amused sound as the next arrow flew. That
desk was just going to be a pile of splinters soon. "Alright,
sure. Come here."
approached, filled with uncertainty. Just another day, then. He
thought dryly, being just a little surprised at the weight of that
straight, ready stance." Rakashi instructed, adjusting the
position of his feet with light taps of her boot against his heels.
"Getting an eye for the sight takes time, so the most important
thing to remember is not to let go of the arrow until you mean to.
Especially when you start pulling the string back." She showed
him how to hold that arrow by example, not bothering with a lot of
wasn't sure if he preferred it that way. The general seemed to be
inferring that he ought to know what he was doing. If so, she was
very wrong. "Yeah. Okay." The rest was a bit of a blur. Needless to
say, he hadn't quite managed to hold either the string
nor the arrow correctly, resulting in a wild shot--which Rakashi
simply reached out an caught. Rean had no idea whether or not that
was unusual, but it seemed to border on the incredible. Or maybe he
just sucked that much, allowing someone to pluck an arrow from the
again." She insisted simply, handing the arrow back.
probably should have refused. Insisted he was probably going to wind
up killing someone by complete accident. Somehow, he managed to line
up the arrow again, trying to grasp it and the string at the same
"Slower." The general suggested
quietly. "It hurts, but pull back
slower. You can feel where the power peaks that way."
he could manage to think was how Demi would have a fucking field day
if he were listening to this. And it did hurt, his chest and
arm burning with the effort of holding steady, pulling back that bow
string and waiting...
if it was kind of accidental when he let go at that point, the arrow
actually went somewhere. The wall above the desk, sure, but it was
something. Rean stood there transfixed for a moment, staring at the
arrow he'd just shot... then handed the bow back. "I think I'm
snort he got in return for that comment had been worth it, somehow.
"Good luck with that." Taking up the bow again, she
reached for another arrow.
wasn't boredom. Hell, he didn't know what it was aside from stupid
curiosity, but... he wanted to ask. Especially now, when she managed
to seem much more relaxed than she had before. A little like how
she'd been in the car. "So... that admiral... I haven't seen
part of the Control Room." She shrugged off, as though it were
no big deal for someone to actually emerge from there. "Admiral
Quent... kind of a dick." Her statement was accented with
another arrow, that one managing to clearly shatter one of the desk
legs. It seemed to be some kind of a goal with the way she grinned
ever so softly.
it was a stupid theory, but he was getting a feeling... "Was
that his car?"
was his third car." She responded with a hint of pride. "The
idiot should have learned to get a clunker by now."
didn't mean to laugh. He really hadn't wanted to, but he couldn't
help himself. When General Vrunai got an order she didn't like, she
crashed the admiral's car? It was... hilarious.
you laugh." She teased, lining up another shot. "Apparently
I'm in 'a lot of trouble.'"
laughter stopped abruptly. "Are you?"
said 'apparently.'" She dismissed, letting the next arrow fly
and lowering the bow. "You know how many years I've heard
sound could have been mistaken for a cough, but the grin on his face
more or less proved otherwise. "I'm probably in trouble just
for being here, right?"
seemed to consider that question. "Well, not so long as
you don't have a tracer on you." Rean's panicked expression got
her to chuckle. "You don't. They're expensive and easily
broken. A little like a fancy car."
really didn't know if he felt any better. Hell, he didn't know anything at
that moment, almost least of all why he was here... but he did
feel better. And he had found out a few ways that the general chose
to deal with this place. Even so, he could still empathize with her
desire to be on the field. Anywhere but trapped inside the Tower.
Something about that thought was just too uncomfortable. "Well,
I... guess I should probably get back to work..."
was another slight look of amusement there, but she didn't comment
directly. "There's nothing else for you to do today. You may
as well go find your own centering point."
point... well, that was interesting. "But then I can't get paid
for the full day..."
a dismissive gesture. "I'll take care of it. Run and be free." Before
he so much as had a chance to process those words, she was
back to aiming for the desk, arrow flying with little effort.
Yeah. It wasn't bad advice. "See
you tomorrow, sir."
away, really. (And for many other
reasons, besides.) He did everything he could to avoid main
hallways, sneaking around and against walls, using shadows to his
advantage. Unfortunately, he'd forgotten the Rule of Demi: when you
absolutely did not want to find him, he would find you instead. There
was an anti-Demi homing beacon in his head. That was the only
exploded behind him like a badly-timed bomb. "What the hell are
you trying to do, attract suspicion?"
futile to resist. He sighed and turned, knowing that if he took off
and ran that his friend would only follow.
captain was utterly silent as he regarded the brunet. There was far
too much stillness to be completely comfortable... right up until the
moment he gasped and asked, point-blank, "Did you get laid?"
he faked innocence--almost. "You have that 'I Just Got Laid'
do no--I'm leaving." It
was definitely the smartest thing he'd managed to do lately.
good-natured laughter trailed him as Captain Dulce caught up, turning
the younger man back around by the arm. "Okay, fine. Seriously, you
look... better than you've been looking lately. Excuse me
for assuming, y'know?"
should have fought harder. He should have thrown that hand off and
run regardless, taking the chance of losing the man by zig-zagging
Demi's voice was uncharacteristically soft. Serious, even.
wasn't good. "What?"
hadn't he just run away again? Why was this guy even considered his
friend? Why the hell wasn't he demanding to know what the captain
knew about everything? "Shut up."
raven-haired man appeared to be deeply puzzled for a number of
seconds. "Hey, um... mind telling me what's up?"
Dammit. A serious Demi was even
worse than an unapologetic and humorous one. "Yes, I do mind."
smile. "I'm right, aren't I?"
"Never." Rean shot back, voice
short but without heat. "About
captain only shook his head and smiled wider. "She's got kind
of a fondness for you, doesn't she?"
Mortification. That had
to be what he felt right then. "Demi. Shut. Up."
brunet's most sincere shock, he did so. "Wanna grab something
to eat, then?"
subject really... dropped? Was he off the hook so easily? Well, not
for long, he was sure, but for the moment... "No. But I'll
still sit with you."
Demi shouted, dragging Rean behind him.
as he hated to admit it... having a bit of "normal"
interaction was kind of exactly what he needed just then. It was a
little weird, though, just how much
he was being dragged behind, as if the captain was in a hurry to get
away from something. Stupid thought to have, really; the guy really
was just always hungry.