sunbaked_baker: (Cold ashes)
[personal profile] sunbaked_baker
(From here.)

Theo drove while Pat talked. Neither men looked tired, which Rae supposed was a good sign, but both were as tense as compressed springs, and their shadows roiled in the dark of the early morning. Rae sat in the back and listened to Pat speaking from the front seat. About the meeting. About the short-notice being due to the Goddess being tied up in committee meetings at another regional HQ all day. About what kind of person Director Misra was. What they could probably expect from the meeting. The strategies of how Pat and Theo were planning on presenting the evidence against the Goddess and building the case for Sunshine's innocence.

Sunshine listened as closely as the lingering numbness would allow - closely enough to tell that some of Pat's talking was an effort to get her to talk as well - though repeatedly found her attention drifting to the engaged and warded lock sunk into the car door to her right, and the thick, grey proofglass of the window. Everything about the SOF vehicle was designed to keep what's outside out and what's inside in. Good guys on the inside, all the evils of the dark on the outside. On the Other side.

Everything that is good and clean and human and light, against everything Other and dark and dangerous. That was how Special Other Forces saw the world.

(The back seat of the SOF car was a ruin of dark blood and... bits. The towel they had given her didn't smell of sunlight anymore. It smelled of the same charnel-house smell of deceased vampire. Rae couldn't tell any more if her eyes burned from her tears or from the blood that had gotten into them.)

Except that easy, us/them view did not reflect reality, did it? They were all proof of that, one way or another - Pat, Jesse, Theo, her. Proof that just because you weren't human in the normal way didn't mean you were any less a person. Proof that just because SOF did it didn't mean it was right or what was best for the world. Sunshine wondered just how many SOF agents were like Pat and Jesse and Theo, passing as human in the career field most strictly limited to full-blood humans, while required to mete out the human world's flawed justice on their fellow Others. Trying to soften the blow, perhaps. Trying to make things... better, in whatever ways they could. To maybe make the world a little more just, a little less dark, for people like them and for everyone else. Dismantling the walls the world built for itself, brick by brick.

Well, making it a bit better for nearly everyone else. Even with their secret, Other-inclusive views of personhood, Rae wasn't sure any of her SOFs were ready to think of vampires as people. That was probably too much to hope for, just yet. Those bricks were down near the very foundations, and wouldn't budge easily.

She wondered how many people there were out there who were like her, magic-handlers hiding their gift to keep their normal lives safe. She had never heard of any. Rae hoped that just meant that they were successful.

"I don't suppose there's any chance of just being... honest with Director Misra, is there?" She asked abruptly, as she saw the sign noting SOF Headquarters, Next Right. Her tone was probably flatter than she'd meant, but she couldn't take it back after she'd said it.

Pat turned in his seat to look at her, wariness in his shadows behind the mild look. "How honest we talking, Sunshine?"

Rae shook her head slightly - she knew the meeting today was not just about keeping her secrets safe. Her SOFs' lives also were at risk here. "I'm just... tired of lying all the time."

Theo snorted from the driver's seat, and Pat gave her a dry look. "Join the club, kid. It is what it is."

Rae shook her head. Perspective, Sunshine.

"Fair," she muttered, looking out at the proof-glass grey overlaying the sequence of street lights trying to fight back the night. "Shouldn't be like that, though."

"You make cinnamon rolls that can break the strongest of wills and salvage a wretched day, Sunshine, but you can't fix this. It's bigger than any of us," Theo spoke up from the driver's seat, glancing at her through the rear-view mirror. His tone was tired, but gentle. Rae met his gaze, seeing the weathered lines around his all-too-human eyes, seeing the texture of his shadows that revealed them to be not-so-human. He and Pat weren't just tense, they were scared. Her SOFs were as scared as she was of what today could cost them. Rae was very familiar with the worry of trying to accomplish too much, to save too much, and risking saving nothing. But... that was her life. Not just cinnamon rolls. Not any more.

"There's a lot at risk, yeah, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try," she insisted, quietly.

('In every attempt, we risk everything for the sake of everything.')

"Not today, Sunshine," Theo replied firmly, shaking his head once.

"Then when?" Rae said more sharply, feeling the numbness falter. She tried not to sound like she was pleading.

"Not. today." Pat insisted gruffly, trying to end that line of conversation. He turned away from her, settling back into his seat. "This is not the time. Today is about today. If we make it to tomorrow, then we'll think about tomorrow."

"And how many tomorrows will it take, do you think?" she demanded. Rae's voice cracked as she tried and failed to keep the calm numbness wrapped around her. Dread was welling up in her at the thought of the world's ever-dwindling supply of tomorrows. Her dwindling supply. Sunshine had trained herself not to think of the day she was as fast and as strong as she'd ever be. "Fewer than we have?"

Pat had no answer, she could see it in his shadow. In the tense silence that followed, Theo offered a mild, "We're here."

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Rae "Sunshine" Seddon

August 2017

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