26 Apr 2013
Subject 13 #17 - Jessica
[Adult situations. Reader discretion advised.]
Nasty followed Anne to the women's washroom. "What did he mean by become the next peregrine?"
"You're not from here, are you?" Anne asked. "In the past, Eagle has had a partner in his fight against crime."
"You're right into this comic-book thing, aren't you?"
"You don't know the half of it, Jessica. Anyway, there have been four other Peregrines in the past. Eagle has a knack of finding partners."
"After four, I should hope so," Nasty said. "What happened to them?"
"Three have gone on to other jobs."
"And the fourth."
Anne bit her lip. "Died. Shot while trying to stop a robbery on his own."
"Not exactly a safe job, is it?"
"It's up to you, Jessica. You don't have to say yes. In fact, let me say that it is not something that you'd want to do."
"Let me make my own decision, okay?" Listen to her, Natasha. She's saying don't take the job. What better way to say no than to agree with her?
"Up to you. If you don't mind getting beat up by the lowest of the low daily, then it's the perfect job."
Sounds like home. "Let me just freshen up, okay? I'll think about the offer." Nasty stepped into the washroom. He wants me to be his damned sidekick, that's what he wants. I'll tell him no. Nothing he can do to stop me. She stopped in front of the sink. God, I am a mess. Maybe I should let these guys help me. What the--? Nasty looked down at her shirt. Oh, great. Colour filled her cheeks. Way to go, Natasha. You took a white shirt and no jacket. Maybe no one noticed. She folded her arms over her breasts. Sure they didn't. Okay, if they want to reward me, they can give me clothes.
Nasty left the washroom, her arms still folded. Anne waited for her just outside the door. "Done already?" Anne asked.
"Sorta," Nasty said. "Um, about the reward. This is going to sound bad, but I, well, I've changed my mind, kinda."
"I could use some clothes."
"Great. I bet Edward and American Eagle there saw, too." Damnit! Why didn't I notice sooner?
"Kind of hard not to notice," Anne said.
Nasty pressed her arms harder into her chest. "Great. Just great."
"Jessica, you're wearing a shirt obviously too large for you, pants that drag on the ground, and a tie for a belt. Not what I'd call subtle."
"Oh." She didn't notice? I guess she wouldn't, but what about the others?
"Would you like to talk about it?"
"Not really. I would like to get a sweater."
"Is it obvious?" Nasty asked.
"Well, you have your arms wrapped around you."
"Oh." Duh, Natasha.
"How about this - you go get cleaned up, I'll scrounge some clothes for you, then we'll get you your clothes."
"My office has a private shower. You can use that. Come with me." Anne lead the way down the hallway.
Private shower? "Um, Anne, what do you do here?"
"Chief Financial Officer. I manage the Foundation's budget."
Something weird is going on. "No offense or anything, but if you're so high up, what are you doing with me?"
"Why shouldn't I be here? You helped Eagle out," Anne said. "I can also authorize paying for your clothes on the spot, if you wanted to get something special."
"You're not used to this, are you?"
"Used to what?" Nasty asked.
"All this attention. You're not comfortable with it."
"I suppose." Care to explain why the freak found me? Can you read my mind?
"Relax, Jessica. Eagle just wants to recognize you for standing up for what you believe in. He knows that you didn't have to step in when you did." Anne opened the door to her office. Her name, Anne Rubio, and her position were emblazoned on a large brass placard on the door.
"Did he mention my power?" Nasty asked as she was ushered in.
"He did. He also thinks that you would have stepped in to help even without your ability."
"I supposed I would. I didn't think. I just jumped in. Could've gotten me killed."
"That, too, but you acted. That's why Eagle is offering you the chance to be the new Peregrine. The shower's through that door. There are towels under the sink. I'll got get you something else to wear. Want anything in particular?"
My life back. "Shoes and a sweater," Nasty said.
"I'll get them for you. What size shoe?"
"I'll be right back. Do what you need to do, and if I'm back before you're done, I'll leave the clothes just outside the door. Take as long as you need, and there are bath crystals if you prefer."
"Excuse me, sir?" Subject 2 said.
The Coordinator looked up from his reading. "Has Thirteen been found, Two?"
"Eleven's van has been. Police in Rochester found it abandoned. Ten has gone down to reclaim it."
Subject 2 held his breath. "That Rochester, yes."
"Wonderful. Pull our records. How active has American Eagle been?"
"Stopped a bank robbery this morning, a few blocks away from where the van was found. Police originally thought the van was the getaway vehicle."
"Would it be too much to hope Thirteen wasn't involved?" the Coordinator asked.
"Mikail's profile of her shows that she tends to help out where she thinks she's needed. Hell, her school records showed a thank you from a teacher from another school for watching over some kid."
"Let's work on the assumption that American Eagle is aware of her. Get Five and Twelve and go to Rochester. Keep a low profile, and let me know if you find any trace of Thirteen."
"Well, Anne, what do you think of our guest?" Eagle said, sitting back in his chair.
"Jessica is an interesting girl. She doesn't seem to be your usual runaway," Anne said. She leaned against Eagle's desk. "She doesn't trust easily."
"Considering what she was wearing, I'd say she had good reason not to trust anyone. Shoeless, clothes too big for her, and a long way from home."
"You noticed her accent, too. Are you sure you want her to be the new Peregrine?"
"You tell me. Can she do the job?"
Anne stood up and began pacing. "She can, with a bit of training and discipline. Will she is another matter."
"I'm sure she'll make the best decision for her," Eagle said. "What did the young lady ask for her reward?"
"New clothes, and even then it took her a while to ask. Jessica's getting cleaned up right now. I'm taking her as soon as she ready."
"Can you talk to her some more about becoming Peregrine? I'd hate to see someone with Jessica's abilities and desire to help others get away from us."
"I'll do what I can."
[End Issue 17]
Next Issue: Can Nasty leave her old life behind?