By now Mom Walker has long suspected that Nathan and I are completely mad, but today I think she finally realized that leaving the two of us together is pure insanity.
Admittedly I thought Nathan had taken a step off into the deep end when he proposed working with me on a way to protect myself against a mental attack. I mean, he just got out of the hospital but as he pointed out, this wasn't a physical thing.
It helps that my chances of actually hurting him are pretty slim and even if we did manage to figure out what I need to do… well there's only so much a brick can do against something that's the comparative equivalent of a granite building
All things considered she took it rather well-set us up in her study with pillows all over the floor and orange juice and snacks.
The idea was simple enough… teach me to recognize when I'm reflexively fighting against a magical attack (which proved to be the easiest part) then focus all my energy at the source. It was really easy to say, harder to explain and well… very difficult to do.
It took several hours, a headache and three glasses or orange juice before I produced something that could even be recognized as a response and even then Nathan had to confer with Mom to see if it actually happened.
The first time I actually produced a notable response I was laid out on the pillows and Nathan had his head bent over, at first I thought he was laughing, which made me angry… but then I realized I'd actually gotten him with something.
After that it was a question of reproducing and honing my response and overcoming my fear of hurting Nathan, but after that Nathan pulled out the stops, pushing every button he knew I had and finding several I didn't even know about.
We stayed for dinner: Ethan and Michael were in the final death match of Michael's new video game and Ethan didn't want to leave it there. It was just as well.
By evening I was an emotional noodle, but we knew I could at least give a response that might give me enough time to at least hit my panic button if nothing else. Nathan has threatened to field test me on this to make sure I hold nothing back, but right now I couldn't push my way through a wet paper back in the tub.
That night I lost it. I was soaking in the tub and the next thing I know I was crying in Case's arms. He was worried, but he could see the difference. All the other 'episodes' were dealing with the memories the boys from Knight Errant had shaken loose, tonight-it was all about what they did to me.
It was a turning point and we both knew I was going to be all right. Tomorrow I'm setting up my eval to go back to the real work.
If we're really lucky, Mom Walker will let us out of her sight… sometime next year.
The worst part is-it wasn't even our fault, in fact today proved to be the method to yesterday's madness. I realized last night that what Nathan did was a mental version of the self defense classes I tend to avoid. While they work-it's a lot more brutal and emotional than I like my training to be, but sometimes it's what works.
Nathan had warned me that he wanted to field test me-attack me when I didn't expect it. It's not that he was afraid I might hit him too hard, no he wanted that. Truthfully he wanted me to hit him with everything I had-he just didn't want me shooting at him or worse, hitting my panic button and having Citywide shoot him at my behest.
It was a good plan, only there was no way for us to know that someone else had plans of their own. We're safe on Council Island now but for a while - things really didn't look good.
It all started normally enough, me driving to the office, Nick tailing me to make sure I was safe. I'm not sure if Case put him up to it or not-but it doesn't really matter, it was a good thing he was there.
Everything was planned out like an elaborate game of chess, with one extra player on the board-my attacker hadn't counted on Nathan. I'm amazed he missed that since he had planned for everything else, including Nick.
Case and Jonathan were at Ares picking up my bike and my personal effects as I was heading out for lunch, Nick never followed me into the parking garage- that was Citywide turf and I was safe there. I was supposed to be safe there.
The attack came as I approached my car on B2. The advantage of being the chief is a set parking space next to the elevators. I don't think I'll be parking there any more.
As near as I can tell, the plan was for me to collapse from an apparent panic attack when he would load me into the back of a Citywide Ambulance, stolen from the repair shop on B1. It would have looked like a case of being in the right place at the right time.
I was almost to my car when I felt the push of magic against my mind and I responded the way Nathan had taught me. I'm glad to say I didn't hold back. Let's face it, the real power behind my 'attack' is that it's unexpected, not enough to do any real damage, just enough to hit my panic button and maybe put some distance between me and my attacker.
What we didn't figure on was how much it would tick off the would-be attacker and just how hard they'd 'hit' back in retaliation. I did manage to hit the panic button when I realized it wasn't Nathan testing me but I almost didn't make it.
Next thing I know I'm in pain, half shackled and Nick is yelling for the guy to put his hands up. I'm not sure what all happened, I'm not sure I want to know-I do know I was flung across the room and unceremoniously dumped behind a car, and by the time the Citywide Tac-Team arrived I needed a new car… and there was an ambulance and a fire door needing replacing as well. Thankfully Nick and Nathan were both semi ambulatory. Nathan had ditched his crutches opting to levitate his way down to the parking garage… but let's face it-we're lucky to be alive.
The mage was not so lucky.
Knight Errant arrived soon after and tried to take control of the scene. They had a decent argument: the mage was one of theirs and I, a suspect they were investigating, had been one of the people to shoot him, but that was not the whole story by any stretch of the imagination and someone had briefed the tac-team so they weren't letting anybody take over until the Star got there.
I'm not sure if the mage was a psychopath or a true sociopath, I don't really care anymore. He went after me and my family and tried to push Nathan's buttons into killing him. When that failed he tried to kill Nathan while he was walking away.
I reacted without thinking. Nick's reaction was trained and precise, and in the end-we walked away, he didn't. Okay, we limped away… but we're still, more or less, standing.
This morning was disorienting enough that I ended up going back to bed. Every time I started to even think about what I needed to do, I'd realize I had another problem. It didn't help that I was tired enough I couldn't remember where I was when I woke up.
Okay, I knew I was in bed and I knew my husband was with me, but it took me a few minutes to figure out that we were on Council Island and even longer for me to remember why.
Aside from being our home away from home, and probably the most secure place we could be, Council Island has the added advantage of being a sovereign nation with nothing even close to an extradition treaty with Ares or more to the point, Knight Errant.
When I started to get up, Case pulled me closer,
I laughed and pointed out that we had to get Bri to school, but he assured me that Bri was staying right where she was. When I objected he informed me that he'd already called the school and let them know that we had some issues that needed to be dealt with.
"Besides," he added, "it's not like you can drive her anywhere in your car."
He had a point. The remains of my car were sitting in Lone Star's impound lot as we spoke.
"I could take yours," I threatened without really trying to go anywhere.
"You could if it weren't in the shop," he answered, draping the covers over my shoulders. "And I've already called Charlie… so you are officially sleeping in."
There were things that needed to be done, but Case was right, the most important thing was spending time with family and celebrating what we have.
Who am I to argue?
I may not be as suspicious as my husband, but I have learned to recognize people's moods and body language. With patients it helps me figure out if the person is going to try and hit me and yes, I sometimes get that one wrong, or just don't react quickly enough, but when it comes to family… it means I can at least tell when something is bothering them.
In Case's case it had everything to do with Monday and KE's investigation of what happened, not to mention their investigation of the boys-and how they went about 'investigating'.
I could tell it was something he couldn't exactly talk about, especially since anything he does is going to be questioned considering the fact that one of the 'suspects' is his wife.
Still he had something and it was bothering him.
I finally asked for a rundown and he sighed. He looked away from me as he spoke which is never a good sign. It took a long time for him to turn back to me and answer my question, but I could see it in his eyes.
Somehow he knew what they had done to me-more than just the clinical analysis. He probably knew more than I remembered. I felt a cold chill as I realized what that meant.
"They taped it, didn't they?"
He gave a slow nod and I could tell by his expression that they had indeed taped the session and he'd seen it.
"Once they brought in the mages… They never asked about the boys…"
They knew I was hiding something and they didn't really care what. They wanted me… hurting… lost… helpless… they didn't want information, they wanted bait. I started to clench my fist, only to have Case hold me close. Resting his chin on my head he spoke. It was both protective and reassuring and it meant he didn't have to look me in the eyes.
"It was dropped off by an anonymous source," he said, and I knew he was lying… I could probably even guess the name of the anonymous source, or… which of Bri's uncles "Felix" had been talking too. "So I can't use it in court… but if the anonymous source were to leak the information… "
I nodded. If the press got a hold of it-it would hurt KE in ways they wouldn't be able to measure but it would also hurt me. People would see what was done to me in their 'pursuit of justice' and KE could make things difficult for me, for Case and for Citywide.
"Or I could use it as a bargaining chip-make the case go away… make it look like we were working with them-an interagency operation."
Revenge or a graceful exit-those were the best choices we had, and it wasn't just us-it was the Marshal Service… Citywide… Nick.
"They clear all charges against Nick, they don't burry the fact that they had a predator working for them-they leave us alone… "
Case nodded. "Just remember-a threat is only good if you're willing to follow through with it."
That's what it came down to, not a bluff but a good faith 'bargain.' For Case, and Nick-it was worth taking the bargain
"And I want a new car."
It wasn't what I really wanted, but you can't undo what's been done. You can only pick up the pieces and move on… and moving on is much easier when you have a car to do it in.
I'm not sure, but I think Nathan found out about my 'ferret' comment. It may be just a co-incidence but I found a toy plastic ferret in my breakfast cereal this morning… and another ready to dogfight from the windscreen of my motorcycle…
I was going to go into work, but Case still has a few ends to tie up with KE and he'd rather I stay safe on the Island with family to watch out for me-and watch out they do. Besides, technically this is my day off-as opposed to the days I've taken off to 'recover'
Recovery seems to consist of good food, family and long walks along the shoreline. It does feel good to be alive and in tact-but I'm already twitching due to inactivity. I need to get back in the game and to do that I have to get back work.
Bri is back in school-Case arranged for a driver (Jonathan) to take her to school and make sure she gets there and back safely.
I had suggested Nick, but as Case pointed out until KE agrees to our proposal, Nick is still wanted for… questioning. He gave up so much for me-Case assures me he'll make sure Nick is well taken care of, but Nick is used to taking care of himself and no matter how well intentioned Case's actions my be… it's not the same.
All I can do for Nick is commiserate and beat him at chess.
Nathan, between bouts of solitary contemplation and ignoring meals, is working with me on honing my response to attack. Let's face it, it worked but it still knocks me for more of a loop than my would be attacker.
Today I drove to work in a shiny new sedan. It's a rental but from what I understand-it takes a while to customize a vehicle to Case's specs… plus there are the electrical and radio modifications I need as Operations Chief of Citywide… and Mom Walkers 'enhancements'
I'm not sure where things stand, but Case gave me the keys last night and told me to be careful. I could tell by the looks he Jonathan and Nick exchanged that I'll be having a tail for a very long time.
I made it in on time and while things have been running relatively smoothly, it was well past time for our first semi-monthly meeting. It had been over a month. We went over the major issues we'd noticed and I'm happy to say the staff has learned to express themselves. I also have to admit that Hernandez does make the best paper airplanes. I on the other hand make the best 'stunt' planes which usually loop back to me. While not exactly 'good' they are almost always amusing.
In other news, I have been cleared for working on a bus but to get back on a bike I have to talk to Ray 'I'm not running the Motor Medic program' Schmidt. You know for not accepting the position, he sure acts like it's his baby now…
I found a stuffed ferret in my desk. It wasn't there when I went in to the meeting, but it was there when I got back. I also found one in the glove compartment of the sedan. I don't think I've seen the end of it-but Nathan's forgetting one simple rule of siblings…
Big sisters get revenge. Looks like I'm going to have to remind him and on the bright side, he's giving me plenty of ammo.
From the looks of things the children's ward is going to have a very large supply of stuffed ferrets by the time this is over.
This morning, while I was getting ready for work, someone was loading my sedan's back seat with toy ferrets. There were plush toy ferrets, plastic ferrets, ferret balloons and a stuffed toy that looked more like a camel than a ferret but judging by the markings it was supposed to be a ferret.
There was a ninja ferret, a burglar ferret, a pair of police ferrets and a ferret trooper… you get the idea. It there was a costume… there was a ferret wearing it.
On a hunch, I left them in the car and oddly enough by the time I headed home the number of ferrets had doubled.
When I met with Ray he admitted he just wanted to make sure I was ready to get back on the bike. People seem to forget I've never been a good damsel in distress. I'm much better when I'm up to my elbows in someone else's trouble.
I'll be working the job my way again next week… with Ray at my side… just in case.
I may have to rent a storage locker for the ferrets.
Copyright 2010 M.T. Decker