835 words in 134 lines
Finally complete, after many attempts by illness and brain gremlins to de-rail this poem. Thank you for your patience.
Part of the Berettaflies thread.
'It's over,' Tsubasa thought.
She tried to relax.
The police and paramedics were here.
It hadn't taken long for either to arrive.
Apparently there had been reports of a hearse
driving crazy across the city.
Still, the officers didn't seem too mad
when she gave her statement.
A little annoyed maybe.
And there was some staring at them.
But everyone stayed professional
which earned them brownie points.
And answered the paramedics' questions
about the effects of her drones as best she could.
Which usually meant “It didn't last time”
or “I don't know.”
She made a mental note
to find a way to practice with her drones.
Hopefully someone with invulnerability
would be willing to play guinea pig
in exchange for reasonable favors.
Nobody was dead.
Through the crazy lady might wish
she was if Ashley's venom
was anything like the original.
Most of her drones had disappeared
not long after the police arrived.
The rest had slowly dissolved back
to wherever they came from
as everyone was questioned
and seen to by the paramedics.
They were all gone now.
Tsubasa hoped they would be done soon.
She wanted to go somewhere safe, eat,
and crash for a while.
Ashley had said something
about Haruko getting them pizza.
That sounded good.
Speaking of Ashley, Tsubasa looked up
to see where her teammates had gotten to.
Adalina and Facet were off to the side,
behind one of the buildings.
Out of sight of most of the people here
and any new arrivals.
Which she couldn't blame them for.
She was getting tired of feeling
eyes on her too.
Facet had a few cuts and
Adalina was bruised
but they were otherwise
She couldn't see Ashley but knew she hadn't left.
For one thing, her car wasn't a stealth machine.
She would have noticed it leaving.
For another, she felt close by.
'Got to remember to ask about that,'
Tsubasa thought before focusing on the
delicate thread that felt like Ashley and following it.
It was more like playing hot and cold than following anything.
The emotions pulsing quietly down the thread
felt stronger when she was closer.
And weaker when she was further.
There was some fear and some anger.
But mostly she felt like pain and confusion.
Some of the pain was probably physical.
She had been shot.
It might not have breached her containment suit
but the force of the bullet still could have broken bones
and caused some bruising.
Tsubasa thought she had seen Ashley
brush off the paramedics earlier.
Was it because she didn't think
she was hurt badly enough to need them?
Or because they simply weren't equipped to treat her,
she considered it pointless to bring it up to them?
Or was it something else?
She didn't know.
She'd have to ask.
But some of the pain felt different.
Deeper than the other pain and
mingled with the confusion.
Like something was both wrong and right.
Worried, Tsubasa followed the thread
and added more EFA and mental privacy training
to her list of things to learn.
She felt very close.
Close enough that Tsubasa's eyes
were a better searching tool.
Maybe the abandoned Hot Topic?
Or was that too cliché?
Ashley saved her the deliberation by calling out,
“Hey, in here!”
From the Hot Topic.
Despite everything, that gave her a little smile.
Tsubasa approached the store carefully.
There was a lot of broken glass and
her shoes weren't rugged enough
to stomp through it with impunity.
“Are you okay?” Tsubasa asked.
And mentally cringed.
It was such a dumb question.
Ashley looked about what she felt like.
And there were dried tear tracks down her face.
In other words, not okay.
“No . . . but I'm working on it.”
'Well, that's an honest answer,' Tsubasa thought.
She watched the taller woman walk up and had another thought.
'She looks like she needs a hug.'
Tsubasa was a hugger.
And not particularly inclined toward curbing that trait.
So when Ashley got close enough,
she wrapped her arms around her and hugged.
Not too tight to avoid causing further damage
to Ashley's already bruised (at least) side.
And so that if she wanted to not,
she could easily wriggle away.
At the moment she seemed too surprised.
“You looked like you needed one.”
“You know that's not a very safe thing to do.”
Tsubasa looked up and nodded.
She was right.
It wasn't a very safe thing to do.
But it might be the right thing to do.
“I know, and I know you don't like being hugged much.
But you're a friend, and you've been crying in here alone.
Besides, I don't think you'd hurt me deliberately
and I'll take my chances with accidentally.”
Ashley was silent for moment
but then she smiled.
They went to gather up the other two.
Plans were made to go to Ashley's place.
Where hopefully there would be Haruko with pizza.