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Everything posted by Caitlin Kieran

  1. "Ohhh, wow," the redhead breathed expressively. She wasn't sure whether she should laugh or cry at this point- brainiac though he might be, Curtis clearly had not received much of a social education. Given the awkward situation, though, Caitlin decided to take pity on him; that he'd never actually gone on a date before was basically a foregone conclusion. ,, "Okay. So, ah, usually, that's not really how a date works. The person doing the asking, the... well," she shrugged, "the pursuing, is the one who's trying to make it fun for the one they're after. Asking someone on a date, and then telling them they'll be spending their time trying to entertain you and-" How would he phrase it? Oh! "-validate or invalidate a hypothesis is kind of a slap in the face. If you're asking someone out, it's usually because you want to spend time with them, or learn more about them, or get them to also be interested in you, which generally means you're responsible for showing them a good time. Not the other way 'round."
  2. Everything sounded good- ideal, even- until Curtis had to go and be, well, Curtis. ,, "Sooo..." A pair of tiny furrows appeared between Caitlin's knitted brows as she pursed her lips. "Let me be sure I've got this right. You... asked me out." A nod of confirmation. "On a date." Another nod. Curtis began to wonder if he'd missed something, judging by the slow, halting cadence of the redhead's speech. He was sure he'd been fairly clear in his description, but Caitlin wasn't precisely on-par with his mental faculties. "...So that I can entertain you outside."
  3. "All right," the redhead replied quickly, then added, "I mean, 'all right,' as in, 'okay.' I think?" Grimacing at her inability to hold a simple conversation, Caitlin sighed and slumped against the door frame. "Okay," she tried again, exhaling with a rueful smile. "Let me start over. Hey, Curtis. It's been a while. Sure, going out sounds like fun, and since I can't remember the last time I had any, I'm game. What did you have in mind?"
  4. "Uhhh," Caitlin droned eloquently, her bewilderment writ plain on her face. "Go out with you? Like... on a date?" It was not her finest moment, but he'd caught her completely off-guard. Sure, she liked Curtis, but did she like him? Where was the distinction? What would they talk about? Where would they even go? What if that wasn't what he meant, and he was just trying to help her get back into the habit of doing things with people again?
  5. As the other teens clamored to run headlong into the chaos, Caitlin could only stare for a moment, utterly dumbfounded. Were they actually serious? Did they really think this Dr. Hunt was going to pat them on the butt with a smile and send them toddling out the door after a quick tour of the Hunt-cave into what was already a massacre? Did they actually believe the craziness they were talking? ,, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" she yelled, pushing a few sweat-damp strands of coppery hair out of her face as she moved quickly to catch up. "Are you guys out of your ever-loving minds?! They've got the military, civilian law enforcement, random bystanders, crazy mutants with who-knows-what powers and a shit-tonne more experience, aaaaand giant mass-murdering robots who apparently can't be arsed to differentiate between any of the above!" She scowled at the other students as they scrambled to be first on the Crazy Train. "Y'know what we've got? A bunch of high school kids, with minimal awareness of our abilities, no experience working together, no leadership structure, and a plane that doesn't have a pilot! Hell," she gestured toward Sakurako, "you couldn't stand the sight of a bloody sparring match a few minutes ago, and now you want to go charging off headfirst into a warzone? Do you think it's more likely we'll help, under the circumstances, or make things worse? Are you really willing to see your insides outside your body? To do that to someone else? To see it happen to your friend? To destroy buildings, machines, human beings, and see them all crushed as if they meant nothing?" Her green eyes blazed like sunlit emeralds, fiery and hard, as she scanned the faces of her 'teammates.' "That's what this is gonna be. It's not gonna be about noble bloody speeches and high ideals." She paused, her fists clenching at her sides as the memory of Primal's laugh echoed in her ears. "It's just gonna be about blood. And if you aren't sure you're ready for that, and I mean really ready, sit the hell down, because you'll get somebody killed."
  6. Not having to share a room with someone else has its perks, Caitlin mused as she lay on her coverlet, admiring the trailing vines of the Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium and Epipremnum aureum that had, over the last few weeks, slowly begun creeping along the grid of slender ropes she'd stretched across the ceiling. Otherwise, her room remained relatively spartan, still absent the little touches of home or personal identity that most of the other students had accumulated. Maybe something with flowers? she thought, pursing her lips as she considered her next botanical acquisition. The two houseplants she'd gotten were hardy and easy to care for, and they'd grown beyond her expectations; apparently her mother's green thumb had rubbed off on her. She smiled at that, then squeezed her eyes shut as if to block out the memory. No point thinking about the past, Caitlin. ,, The sharp, staccato knock sent her bolt upright in surprise. Her infamous temper tended to keep visitors at bay, so unless someone had gotten to her room by mistake... ,, With a sigh, the redhead rolled off the bed, stretched, and meandered over to the door. She turned the knob, fully expecting to have to direct someone to Sonja's room, or Kia's. ,, "All right, what do you-" Bright green eyes widened slightly, blinking at the sight of her former tutor standing in the hall outside. "Oh, ah, Curtis. Hi. Is, ah, everything okay?"
  7. My capacity? The redhead peered dubiously at him from the corner of her eye as she continued walking, shoving her hands decisively into her pockets. The sun was bright, the air fresh and crisp and her lungs, and she wouldn't have to deal with more tutoring sessions in social quarantine... And yet, as she mulled over his choice of words, Caitlin had the sneaking suspicion that he was insulting her intelligence; the part of her mind that Tennyson so aptly described in his friend's elegy bristled with anger. Her fingertips itched, and she forced herself to keep them still. Curtis was her friend, not her enemy, but right now all she could think about was the way he'd crumple if she drove her fist into his gut. He was slim, and just about her height, but as he kept pace with her she visualized his bones as delicate, avian things, fragile and hollow. Idly, she wondered what they'd sound like if she- ,, Oh, fuck. No, no, no. ,, "Yeah," she replied tersely, trying (and failing) to keep her tone light and conversational. Her heart was pounding madly against her ribs, and a bitter, acrid taste spread slowly across the back of her tongue. She felt sick with revulsion at the flood of images flashing through her brain, images so vivid she reflexively glanced down at her hands, yanking them from her pockets to be sure it hadn't been real. That she hadn't really- ,, "Look, ah, I'm gonna head back. I, umm." She forced a smile, dragging her fingers through her tousled hair and shrugging. "I have a... a thing. That I have to do. So, thanks again, and I guess I'll see you around." The green-eyed feral didn't wait for a response this time, abandoning all social expectations of courtesy as she twitched one arm in a quick wave and abruptly ran back the way they'd come. She couldn't stand it, this thing that was in her brain now, this creature that sometimes roared, sometimes watched with huge, unblinking eyes, and sometimes scraped its claws along the bars of the cage that separated It, from Her. ,, As she ran, a tiny seed of fear that took root when Primal had attacked Alex and Aradia sent out a lurid shoot, driving her onward even faster: which of them was the one trapped inside?
  8. "Oh, believe me," the redhead retorted as she strode forward without hesitation, "that's an accounting I'm more than happy to give. Just don't let yer runaway mouth write a check yer arse can't cash. Don't worry," she added with a grin that showed more teeth than a teenage girl should possess. "I'll try not to smear yer eyeliner too much." ,, She turned to the Director, green eyes alight with a feverish intensity, an expression only he and two others in the room had ever seen on her pretty, freckled, girl-next-door face. "Y've got yer first guinea pigs, so how d'we do this?"
  9. ,, His comment barely had time to register before her cheeks flushed crimson; Curtis's reaction, bless his little Vulcan heart, had been obvious- the guy was wearing a nanofluidic suit- but she'd had no intention of calling attention to that fact, despite being secretly flattered to have had that effect on someone. Warren's mouth, of course, had to turn what would have been just another mildly awkward, unspoken moment in the lives of teenagers into something utterly crass and derisive. ,, Other people made noises that indicated they were talking, both to her and to each other, but she had a difficult time hearing them over the roaring in her ears. ,, "Ye should do a more thorough study of geography," she ground out through white, even teeth as she turned to face the snarky bad-boy, full lips drawn back in an involuntary snarl that had a few students glancing surreptitiously at her canines; her accent, normally subdued, was noticeably thicker. Her hands were stiff at her sides, fingers tautly splayed to keep them from clenching into fists. "Hills and valleys are fine, but it's the cliffs ye gotta watch for. Or, more specifically, the long drop and the sudden stop."
  10. Seeing everyone's excitement over their new outfits made Caitlin grin in spite of the nebulous certainty of this group's composition, or even successful launch; it reminded her of Christmases spent with family and friends. Her smile faded, by degrees, as a pang of homesickness twisted in her stomach when she realized the likelihood of ever feeling that again was almost nonexistent. Still, the redhead put on a brave face, searching until she found the room that held the locker bearing her name. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and pulled out a neatly-folded garment of deep, forest green. The fabric was very fine, though durable, with a faint lustre that betrayed the unusual material woven through the rather elastic cloth. ,, She tried not to stare at Alex as she headed out to change, feeling her cheeks grow warmer on her way past the golden mutant; she still hadn't managed to hold an actual conversation with him after the pizzeria incident. Today... wasn't looking like a good day, either. He was gorgeous, she'd made a total arse of herself, and he was apparently dating the Glamazon. Go figure. The door closed quietly behind her, and she prayed the glare he was emitting would keep people distracted in case her uniform was something awful. She shrugged out of her clothes and, somewhat dubiously, pulled on the new costume. It felt heavier than cotton, but softer and smoother than canvas, and came complete with low-heeled boots that felt implausibly comfortable- the soles must have been cushioned with some kind of gel, she reasoned. ,, "For shock absorption, maybe? Huh. Aha, and, of course, it just wouldn't be complete without a mask, now would it? Lovely. Devin's gonna hurt himself laughin' when I tell him I'm the green ranger." ,, It was a little more form-fitting than she'd like, judging by the fit, but at least she was covered. She could do worse than a unitard, right? Especially since several of the others were wearing what looked like the stuff from that Terminator movie. As she opened the changing room door, there was a fleeting moment in which the cooler air from the AC shifted around her before Alex's natural radiant warmth reasserted itself, and she realized, too late, that she had most definitely felt a draft. ,, Her eyes widened. She looked down. Frantically, she waved Violet over, darting back inside the changing room as quickly as she could. ,, "Violet!" she hissed urgently as the Princess of Purple edged in to join her. "What in-" ,, "Woooww," Vi laughed, nodding. "Yeah, see, what had happened was... Okay," she admitted, spreading her hands with that same cheshire grin. "Nothing happened. We just did an informal poll, y'know, nothing major, and the consensus was that your image is way too..." The stunning little con-artist shrugged, wincing sympathetically. "Vanilla. Almost unanimously, the respondents agreed that there was room for a little 'spicing-up.' We had some concept art drawn up, and this was the design that got the most favorable response," she finished, matter-of-factly. ,, Fortunately for Violet, Caitlin was too embarrassed to be angry. ,, "The most favorable...? Concept art? Informal poll?" It was written all over her face for the young empath to see: I'm supposed to wear this in public?! ,, "Look," Vi murmured soothingly, sotto voce, "it's not bad, honestly. If you're really unhappy with it, we can change it, but maybe, you could... I dunno... Try stepping outside your comfort zone, just a little? Just go out there like it's nothing, y'know? Confidence is sexy." She smiled at Caitlin, and the redhead felt dizzy- she'd never really thought about other girls before, but for that brief moment, she completely understood why some did. "C'mon," she urged, making little kitty-claw motions as she stifled a giggle. "Queen of the Jungle. Or, hills, or whatever they have in Ireland. Rawr." ,, "...Fine." Exhaling sharply, Caitlin got moving before she came down from whatever was in Violet's perfume. Actually, she had to admit as she strode out, the material felt pretty damned good. With the invigorating sensation of the uniform encasing her skin and stubborn pride preventing her from retreating now, she summoned up all her bravado and stretched, as if nonchalantly testing the elasticity and fit. She'd never put herself on display like that before, but maybe Violet was right. Maybe she was too 'vanilla.' ,, "Apparently, I wasn't a very good girl this past year," she quipped dryly as she joined the cluster of students gathered around Alex. "I'm not sure Santa bothered to finish mine. Yours look amazing though," the redhead added and nodded at Sonja and the others with a smile, trying not to let her eyes linger too long on the blonde goddess's glowing companion. ,,
  11. "Absolutely," she replied without hesitation, flashing Curtis a grateful smile as she walked backward for a few paces to continue the conversation. "I don't think I'll ever really get most of it," the redhead admitted ruefully, "but I shouldn't have any problem when I start classes. At least, not with the lessons." Shrugging, she pivoted to face forward again, falling into step next to him. "You've been very cool, actually, so thanks for that."
  12. Caitlin whistled softly as they entered the Core, hands shoved in her pockets. Holy shit. Devin would get himself bitten by a radioactive spider exposed to gamma rays from the 9th dimension in an alternate reality if he knew about this place. In spite of herself, she grinned at Curtis's obvious enthusiasm; the technobabble, flashing lights, and bleep-bloops didn't do much for her, but it was nice to see the normally stoic brainiac actually smile. ,, "Look," she began somewhat hesitantly, reluctant to speak up after her earlier outburst. "The sci-fi stuff is fine, and I'm sure there are serious political ramifications and philosophical issues that will all be discussed by people qualified to discuss them, but I just want to clarify something." The redhead paused, briefly catching her lower lip between her teeth before asking, "We're going to go out and break very expensive things, and very unpleasant people, with permission?"
  13. "Nice to meet you, Kia. Sorry about... eh. All that," she finished somewhat lamely, shrugging her shoulders. ,, Alex's handshake was precisely what she'd expected: warm, firm, and equitable- no classic male power plays. The smile in his blue eyes was gratifying; either he didn't remember the details of what'd happened, or he was more pragmatic than most teenagers. Either way, the Titian-haired mutant felt marginally better about not having scarred such a devastatingly attractive guy for life. "Honestly, I'm really just glad you two came out of it all right," she replied earnestly, her demeanor still rather more subdued than when she'd stormed out earlier. High school was complicated enough on its own, and the additional baggage of turning into a green-eyed ragemonster only made the social labyrinth seem even more unnavigable. She'd been fairly popular back home- was she doomed to play the role of angsty loner now? ,, "And," she added, "food sounds great. This may be the only place on the eastern seaboard that can afford to feed me."
  14. Well, that was unexpected. Caitlin couldn't remember an afternoon spent with Curtis that didn't also have a very specific plan. He was always so organized, their sessions so structured, even in the face of her constant fidgeting and distractions. She knew she hadn't exactly been a model student, but, to her surprise, he hadn't once complained. She'd always thought of brainiacs as being misanthropes with no personality, but her tutor had proven himself to be very considerate and flexible with respect to her rather... unorthodox study habits; in fact, she had to admit, he was almost kind of sweet. ,, "Hm!" Her copper brows knit together in a tiny frown that Curtis had come to recognize as, 'I'm weighing options.' It was one of dozens of expressions he'd filed away for reference when dealing with the impulsive redhead, the better to discern when she was having difficulty with a lesson, when it was time for more kinesthetic learning methods, when she was unsure of an answer, when she was sure, when she was pleased to see him... ,, "Why don't we go for a walk, then?" she asked, brightening as she straightened her legs. "I'm always running or doing something during the lessons, and it seems to help me clear my head and remember what I've learned. Maybe it'll jog your memory about what we were supposed to do. And," she added thoughtfully, considering the implications of what he'd told her, "if we run into other students now, it should be fine, right?"
  15. "Oh," was all Caitlin said at first, blinking at him with those wide green eyes and, for a moment, looking completely unsure of herself. "Well," she finally continued, settling slowly into her customary spot at the base of the tree, "That's good, right? If they think it's okay for me to start regular classes, I guess that means you've done your job. I'm, um, still not really sure how well that's going to work out, though, and to be honest, I'm a little nervous. I mean, I haven't had any, um, episodes or anything lately, which is good, but most of the time I'm by myself." Looping her arms around her shins, she looked at him over her knees. ,, "So, if this is our last session, what should we do? A quiz, or something?"
  16. Caitlin sat on her bed, knees drawn up to her chest, and drew the back of her arm across her face to wipe the tears from her flushed cheeks. The room was largely empty and undecorated, nearly clinical in its spartan atmosphere- a suitable place, she thought glumly, for someone like her. All it lacked were some iron bars on the window and maybe a slot in the door. She hated this place, suddenly and unreasonably, hated the veneer of normalcy that was a mockery of the life she'd had and taken for granted. Unlike most of the other students, she'd had a good home, loving parents, and a decent future, and so she felt that loss more keenly than most. The emptiness, the solitude, the ever-present fear that she'd become a bona fide monster, the quiet where once there had been laughter and love- these things cut more deeply and more cruelly than the claws of the man-beast that had rent her flesh. ,, The blankets lay in disarray where she'd thrown them in a fit of anger, half-concealing the dresser and the piles of clothes and shoes and hangers she'd torn out of the closet. A small cardboard envelope lay next to her, and after several moments of silence she finally, restlessly, tore open the flimsy paper tab that sealed it. Dumping the contents on the rumpled sheets, she tossed the envelope itself aside, a tiny part of her exulting in the minor rebellion of having completely ransacked the ordinarily pristine room. It's not as if anyone cared, anyway, she reasoned. The one friend she might've made probably thought she was crazy, and she couldn't blame him. She was. There was no way she belonged with the rest of those students, and the Director had to be out of his ever-loving mind too if he thought otherwise. And, really- sending a bunch of kids out like some comic book team of superheroes to save the day? ,, She shook her head and glanced at the small blue SD card briefly, then unfolded the letter. ,, "Hey, Cat. Sorry I haven't written! This whole 'night job' business is kicking my ass, but we could Skype or something sometime if they let you guys do that up there. I've got it on my phone now, so you can just call me from your laptop while I'm out and about. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, and good news! Insurance is covering most of the damage at the restaurant, and I heard the Director at your new school is handling the rest, so try not to worry about it. I think Phil's still pretty pissed, even though he knows it wasn't your fault, so maybe you'd better just order delivery for a while 'til he calms down. As an added bonus, the greatest, handsomest, smartest, and generally awesomest delivery guy ever could probably be bribed into carrying it himself if he could get, say, a tour of the academy? He's the kind of guy who worries about his best friend and all, and wants to make sure she's not bored to tears or chained to a wall, or something. So, nice guy that he is, he asked me to send you some music to listen to- I have no idea why, I guess he likes you, or something. ...Platonically! Geez! Anyway, you've probably got classes, or you have to get back to the Danger Room for more training with the rest of the X-Men, so I'll let you take care of all that. Miss you! Talk to you soon, Devin." ,, In spite of herself, the redhead's lips twitched upward in a half-hearted smile. She could almost hear his voice as she read, and when she'd finished, she folded the paper again, carefully, and adjusted her pillow to tuck the letter underneath. With the languid ease of the young and athletic, she leaned off the bed and fished around in the darkness below to retrieve her laptop. It wasn't exactly the newest model, and a multitude of dings and scratches were camouflaged by stickers, lettering, and paper cutouts affixed to the case. As she waited for it to boot up, her smile lingered; it was nice to know, at least, that someone had been thinking of her, even if she was feeling a teensy bit guilty for assuming that wasn't the case. ,, The first song that began playing, when her SD card reader finished its job, wasn't one she'd heard before. It built slowly, starting with a somewhat melancholy piano, before gradually opening into a melody that sounded faintly reminiscent of her parents' rousing ballads from home. ,, You swore and said We are not We are not shining stars This I know I never said we are Though I've never been through hell like that I've closed enough windows To know you can never look back If you're lost and alone Or you're sinking like a stone Carry on May your past be the sound Of your feet upon the ground Carry on ,, Caitlin blinked as tears welled up in her eyes again. This wasn't what she'd expected, at all, from the guy who'd forced her to sit through Youtube videos of muppets singing about the internet being for porn. ,, But I like to think I can cheat it all To make up for the times I've been cheated on And it's nice to know When I was left for dead I was found and now I don't roam these streets I am not the ghost you want of me ,, Something, a feeling she couldn't describe, practically vibrated through her as she listened, despite the urge to shut the laptop down and lie down until sleep claimed her. ,, Cause we are We are shining stars We are invincible We are who we are On our darkest day When we're miles away So we'll come We will find our way home ,, As the last notes faded, and the next song queued up, Caitlin paused the music and just sat there quietly, her shoulders quaking with silent tears and laughter. How the hell could he possibly have known? Maybe he hadn't, she realized- maybe he was just sending her music, as he'd said, to help her feel less out-of-touch with the outside world. Gratitude mingled with hints of trepidation rippled through her chest in aching waves, and she resolved to think of some way to thank him. ,, With eyes still reddened by tears, the verdant green seeming even brighter in contrast, she hauled herself out of bed and shuffled back toward the Director's office. Lost in her own thoughts, she paid no heed to the curious glances of the people she passed, and as she re-entered the room, simply said with uncharacteristic softness, "I'm sorry." ,, Devin's song http://grooveshark.com/s/Carry+On/4tuuTz?src=5 ,,
  17. "Technokinetic," the young feral repeated slowly, her expression an awkward commingling of incomprehension, surprise, and awe. "You-" There was a brief hesitation as she worked to wrap her mind around the concepts he was so casually describing. "You control machines. With your mind." Another pause. "Um," she began uncertainly, and then followed up with a very heartfelt, "wow." She'd seen so-called 'mentalists' before on television, bending spoons and performing similar tricks, but she'd never heard of anyone capable of actually moving things by thinking at them. Or about them? She wasn't completely sure how it worked; her own abilities were so much more straightforward, and it seemed rude to pry. ,, The rest of the session passed in relative quiet, with Curtis making repeated changes to his calculations and Caitlin absently leafing through her chemistry textbook as she wondered how her tutor had adapted so quickly. Maybe, if these other kids could get a grip on things, she had a chance, too.
  18. "Mmm." Caitlin nodded thoughtfully, chewing at her lower lip for a moment. "Or I could just try to get it out of my system between classes? Hmh. Maybe I'll grow out of it eventually." She fidgeted a bit, as if disproving that theory already, straightening her legs and resting her open notebook on her thighs. "Hey, Curtis?" she asked finally, her expression a mask of curiosity. "Have you always been as smart as you are? I mean, did, y'know, changing make you better at something you were already good at, or were you normal one day and a genius the next?"
  19. As the days progressed, Caitlin really did try, and though it was patently obvious she'd never reach the intellectual level of her tutor, it soon became clear that all her excess energy could be channeled productively. Curtis quickly learned that the best way to get her to focus, when she'd started fidgeting in the midst of a session, was just to let her move. More often than not, a few minute run was enough to satisfy her natural restlessness until the end of the lesson, which also gave him ample opportunity to work on his own coursework and tinker with the diagrams and schematics for a few personal projects. ,, "Okay," she sighed, collapsing back into her seat at the roots of the tree where Curtis still waited. She pushed her hair back from her face, trying to remember where they'd left off. "So, the path taken between two points by a ray of light is the path that can be taken in the least amount of time. That's... Fermat, right?" ,, "More or less," Curtis replied, adjusting his glasses. "Any particle, such as a photon or an electron, propagates over all available unobstructed paths and the interference, the superposition, of its wavefunction over all those paths gives the correct probability of detection of this particle. Thus the extremal- the shortest, longest or stationary- paths contribute into this interference most as they can not be completely canceled out." ,, Caitlin just blinked at him, then grinned and shook her head. "Right, so basically what I said, but more complicated. And I thought math was hard!"
  20. The last person she wanted to run into at that moment was the first one who'd actually gotten to know her at all, so of course, that's the way it happened. Cursing her luck even as she saw the look of surprise on Curtis's face, Caitlin just shook her head violently, sending her hair whipping around her face in a storm of blazing copper. ,, "I'm fine," she mumbled curtly as she stormed past, waving him off as Glacia returned to the office to avoid dragging the situation out any further. Her father had always teased her about getting her temper from him, but she was pretty sure this went way beyond normal teenage grumpiness. And so what if it did? There was a part of her, the part that secretly frightened her, that reveled in this feeling. Despite how angry she was, there was still a little frisson of excitement that raced up her spine when she thought about the fight with the mutant that had almost killed her. No matter how good her life had been, or how bad anyone else's was, she doubted anyone else got their kicks hurting people, and she wasn't quite so far gone that she really believed that was a good thing. ,, "Screw 'em," she muttered under her breath as hot tears streamed down her reddened cheeks.
  21. Caitlin was fuming by the time Sakurako tried to change the subject. Apparently, being "the new girl" meant you had nothing worthwhile to say, but the biggest jackass in school (according to what she'd heard) belted out some sob story and suddenly he was a bloody-fucking-kung-fu wise man? Not a single person had paid any attention, including the girl she'd been empathizing with, but this worthless bowsie opened his stupid mouth and they all just bobbed their big empty, too-pretty heads and just went along with it? Without realizing it, the redhead was growling, her cheeks flushed with suppressed fury as she crumpled the water bottle in her hand into a pathetic bit of clear plastic; the remaining water fountained out onto the floor. ,, "Y'know," she ground out tersely through clenched teeth, her whole body shaking with the effort she was putting forth to control herself as she interrupted. "Y'can have it. Keep yer 'special trainin' and yer remedial friends, yer little personal dramas, yer cliques, and yer bloody hero worship. 'd rather have someone gut me- Every. Bloody. Day.- after breakfast than deal with this. I'd rather sit in that feckin' room By. My. Self. for the rest of the feckin' year with those shite doctors tellin' me how much progress I've made 'cause I didn't break anything that day, an' maybe I could join the rest o' the students sometime soon without our dear administrators wonderin' if I'm gonna accidentally kill somebody." Turning to Drumm, she briefly tipped her head up in acknowledgement. "So let's just stick with that, yeah?" ,, Relatively confident she'd seriously hurt someone if she stood there any longer, Caitlin stalked, seething, out of the office.
  22. "Yeah, that's exactly it," Caitlin replied with an answering smile, the first genuine one he'd seen with her since their sessions started. "Like, animals, for example. They rarely do things without a really good reason. Their needs color their actions, so it's not really that hard to predict what they'll do if you know whether they're hungry, injured, sick, or whatever." Her hands moved as she spoke, gesturing expansively and animatedly to emphasize her words. "It makes sense, if you know what to look for. People, though." She shook her head, laughing quietly. Curtis knew what she meant: People were irrational, and usually trouble. "Outside, in the fresh air, away from everything? It just, I dunno, feels right. Not all the time," she added hastily. "I'm not gonna build a shack in the mountains or anything. And, I hate to say it, since this place seems nice, but the idea of being stuck in a desk, in a room with twenty other people who could all be as crazy as I am..." Her smile faded by degrees as her thoughts veered back to her present situation. She didn't finish the thought, didn't elaborate on how terrified she was of losing control the way she was sure they expected her to. Why else would they segregate her? ,, Shrugging it off, she gave the test another quick glance and made a mental note to review the ones she'd missed when she went back to her room: a very comfortable version of solitary confinement.
  23. Caitlin glanced up from the paper he'd returned to her, surprise writ clear across her face. Had he actually just asked her a personal question? ,, "The difference?" she repeated, considering how to reply. "Um, well, I'm not sure how to describe it. I'm not claustrophobic, or anything, but..." Pursing her lips as a tiny furrow appeared between her copper brows, the young feral searched for the right words. "It's just- I've always been really active, y'know? I was a real pain as a kid, really rambunctious, a bit of a tomboy. Lots of scraped knees an' all that. Now, after- after what happened, it's like that's just gotten stronger, I guess. It's like bein' inside, where I can't feel the wind or the sun, makes me restless. Best way I can put it is that it's stifling, I think. Walls aren't alive, y'know?" Her expression was earnest, for once neither guarded nor sullen as the fingers of her free hand stroked the grass beside her, the thin shoots growing more robust under her idle ministrations. "Just makes it harder to concentrate. Maybe it's a psychological thing, " she mused, "findin' comfort in what I enjoyed as a kid." With a shrug of her shoulders, and a little smile, she focused on Curtis again. "I guess you're more comfortable in the lab, so that probably sounds strange."
  24. "Mmmmhh," was her only reply, simultaneously acknowledging what he'd said and spinning to face forward again. Curtis was, she noted, taking the long way 'round, a circuitous path that kept them from the most active areas of the grounds. In her other life, she probably would have laughed and accused him of trying to get her alone, but here it just made her feel completely pathetic. Actually, nearly everything these days had that effect. ,, When they finally arrived at a spot her tutor deemed suitable, she dropped her bag onto the sparse grass and quickly followed suit. As the wiry young woman folded her legs, crossing them in the de rigeur position for getting comfortable on the ground, she rummaged for pencil and paper, hesitating when she realized she didn't know where he'd want to start. ,, "So... Curtis, right?" He glanced up from his own preparations, and she assumed she'd gotten it right. "Listen, you said you normally charge for this, and I know you're doin' it as a favor for the Director, but, still. Thanks." He could hear the reluctance in her voice, the hesitation that hinted at either stubborn pride or shame, and filed that tidbit away to be analyzed later. "Anyway, if you'd rather start with my weaker subjects, I don't mind. You're, ah, in charge, I guess."
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