Yugen--An awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response.
You can go back to A here.
In theory everything was over, and it wouldn’t hurt any for her to go somewhere else. Not that she had anywhere else to go, for the moment. She could even have gone to make some sort of plan for the night and presumably been back before Brody was even awake.
She was still sitting there, watching his chest rise and fall slowly.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee or something, Libby?” Inspector Hussein asked softly.
“No, thank you.” She leaned her head back. “Should I assume he’s actually gotten everyone now? Or do you need to go deal with your officer that shot Brody?”
“He’s still in processing.” She sat in the chair on the other side of the room. “And while I’ve been promised like six times they got everyone and we don’t have anything to worry, I’m still going to stay close until he’s functioning again.”
Libby smiled sadly, and knocked her head back. “We’re all jumping at shadows today.”
“You’re shadow-jumping kept you from getting shot, I wouldn’t knock it.” Her tablet went off then, and she held it up, smiling at the screen. “Hello, sweetheart!”
“Papa said I could call and see if you were going to be home for dinner tonight?” A child asked, insistent and stern.
“I don’t know yet, I’m staying at the hospital until my friend Brody is awake, and keeping Libby company.” She turned the screen then, so Libby could see a little girl with dark hair and bright eyes on the screen, who looked almost exactly like a smaller version of her mother. “Libby, this is my daughter, Amira.”
The little girl waved at her. “Hello, Miss.”
“Hi.” Libby smiled. “What time is dinner? I’ll make sure I’m not keeping her.”
“Six sharp,” the little girl insisted. “But if you need her you can keep her.”
“Thank you.” Libby grinned.
“Amira, I told you not to bother Mama at work,” a male voice insisted.
“Gotta go!” she said, before the screen went black.
Detective Hussein laughed, shaking her head.
“She’s eight?” Libby offered.
“She is.” The other woman smiled. “Convinced she’s going to be president of the world.”
“Go her,” Libby said softly. She closed her eyes. “I was going to breed dinosaurs when I was her age.”
“I was always going to be a detective.”
“Well, nobody ever said direction was a bad thing. Detective—”
“Dagny,” she corrected. “I’m off the clock, and I’m definitely dragging you around for dinner when this is all over.”
Libby popped an eye open and looked at the other woman. “Is that why I’m Libby now, and not Ms. Wade?”
“It is.” Dagny smiled. “Presumably you’re going to be around for a while, after all this?”
“At least four months. I think my official timeline is six, but it’ll only take that long if something goes wrong.”
Dagny reached out and knocked on the faux-wood paneled table next to her. “I think there’s been enough wrong.”
Libby laughed, nodding.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Special Agent King asked quietly, standing in the doorway.
She looked back at him, seemingly unmarked and just as well put together as he’d been the last time she’d seen him. “No, we’re just killing time. Did you need a statement or something?”
King grabbed a chair out of the hallway and dragged it in with him, sitting in front of her. “I trust we can have a conversation and you, and Inspector Hussein, can pretend for all intents and purposes that we haven’t had it?”
“We can,” Libby answered.
“Because, as I’m sure you understand, the official line is that I cannot share with you anything that may be pursuant to any form of active investigation.”
She cocked a brow at him. “I understand.”
He nodded, and handed her a paper folder. “Good. I’m in powerful need of a cup of coffee, I’ll bring you and the detective one, shall I?” And then he stood up and walked away, the privacy door hissing closed behind him.
Dagny snorted, and moved to the chair he’d pulled in. “Well then.”
Libby opened the folder. “I’m probably supposed to stuff this under the chair and pretend I don’t want to read it.”
“I want to read it.”
There were four pages of Arrest Identifications. William Shaw, thirty-two, with brown hair and brown eyes, and a tattoo on his neck. Libby recognized him as the man Brody had seen in the street. The next was another man she didn’t recognize, and then another, and then the last identification was someone she’d remembered seeing with James once.
The very last page of the file was a compiled list of known associates, and Libby reached out and grabbed Dagny’s tablet, snapping a picture, and handing it back to her.
“What are we going to do with this?” Dagny asked softly.
“Wait for Brody to wake up, I’m sure he’ll have a way to not gain friends when we look them all up,” Libby muttered. She made sure the pages were all back in order, and closed the folder.
By the time Special Agent King came back, Libby and Dagny were settled in, sitting quietly and resting. Agent King handed them each a cup of coffee, and scooped his folder back up. “Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you both, please give my best to Captain Halliday.”
Libby nodded, and smiled blandly.
King nodded to both of them, and walked away quietly.
“Well that was interesting,” Dagny whispered.
Libby chuckled, and closed her eyes. “I’m going to take a nap, wake me up before Brody wakes up?”
“Sure.” Dagny took a sip of her coffee.
The sounds of the hospital melded into a comforting murmur, soft white-noise that meant she could relax. She didn’t sleep, really, just floated in that warm, comfortable plane between awake and asleep, and tried to quiet the voice in the back of her head that kept trying to pop up with the bits of her life she’d been ignoring during all of this. It was fairly emphatic that she needed to call Matt, as well.
But it could all wait until later. She certainly wasn’t going to do any of that while she was sitting in the hospital, and after all the time Brody had devoted to making sure she didn’t wind up a cautionary tale she could wait for him.
Dagny sighed, after about thirty minutes. “I’m relatively sure you’re not asleep, and he should be waking up in a few minutes.”
Libby sat forward, planting her feet on the ground in front of her chair. “I wasn’t not asleep.” She wiped her face and looked at the peaceful form on the bed. Dark blue eyes watched her, and she huffed at him. “How long have you been awake for, then?”
Brody sat up carefully, stretching. “As long as you have been, apparently.” He checked her over, and Dagny. “Did I miss King?”
Libby nodded. “I’ll share though, once you’re out of here.”
“Looks like the nurse is coming,” Dagny offered.
The dust settled incredibly fast. Once they were all clear, and Brody was out of the hospital, it’d taken Libby less than an hour to find “temporary” lodging. For a second she’d thought Brody would be off, back to whatever he intended to do with his life.
Instead he’d taken a flat about a block from her, and quasi-settled in.
Which meant when Dagny invited them around for a Saturday cookout at hers, Brody could just show up at her door and go with her. Dagny lived in the mid-range residential stacks, on the opposite arm of their lodging. The train ride was quick, and they used the intercom next to glass elevator to tell Dagny they were there.
“It’s number 12, I’ll buzz you in.”
The glass sided elevator sunk down to street level, and the doors popped open. “Select your floor, please?”
“Number 12,” Brody answered.
“Access granted,” the pleasant voice returned, and the doors slid shut and started them up.
Libby liked the idea of the stacks. They were like little two-story houses with grass yards, and gardens, all stacked one on top of the other, and then usually there were some amenities on the bottom few levels. A couple of shops, a restaurant, that sort of thing. Some of the nicer ones had an entire botanical garden, or a museum or something in them.
They stopped at #12, and the doors opened right as Amira opened the entryway door. They stepped into the small room, decorated in browns and greens, and Amira stared up at Brody in something akin to horrified fascination.
“Hello, Amira,” Libby stepped forward.
The girl swallowed and stepped back. “Mama’s guests are here,” she announced.
An attractive, broad shouldered man with dark skin and a wide nose stepped into the main room. “Welcome.” He shook both their hands. “Dagny is starting the grill, or she would introduce us. I am Amir, it is a pleasure to meet you Captain Halliday and Ms. Wade.”
“Brody, please,” he corrected, smiling warmly. “You have a lovely home.”
“Are you gonna be charming now that I’ve told everyone you’re a blunt instrument?” Dagny wiped her hands on a dish cloth, and stood in the kitchen door. Her weekend attire was much more…relaxed than they’d seen her yet. Her headscarf was so bright and jubilant it almost hurt to look at.
“He always thinks he’s charming,” Libby teased gently. “Thank you for having us, and please, call me Libby.”
Amir smiled. “Please come through to the table outside. Amira, get the plates.”
They settled in the sweet outdoor space, and Libby stared at the nest of song birds in the corner while Brody and Amir talked about PacIC and what Brody planned to do while he was there. She’d pointedly tried to ask him what his plans were, but the most answer she ever got was that for the time his plans were to stay in PacIC.
And whatever was growing between them, she didn’t feel comfortable pushing for more of an answer than that, so she didn’t.
“Mama says you’re a kind of social worker,” Amira said, sitting next to Libby and opening a package of string cheese.
“I work with them sometimes, but I don’t help people so much as just ask them lots of questions.”
“Why do I ask them questions?” Libby clarified.
The little girl nodded, attention fully pointed at Libby.
“So that the people who are supposed to help them know what they need.”
“Why don’t they just know?”
Libby smiled, taking the bowl of fruit from Brody, and putting some on her plate. “For the same reason I can tell you’re good at school but I don’t know what your most problematic subject is. And I could look at your records, and see the one you were getting the lowest grade in, but that’s only part of an answer, and maybe if I asked you you’d tell me something different was harder.”
“Did you go to school for that?”
“No, I sort of stumbled into it,” Libby admitted. “But there are people who go to school to do what I do. I get to travel a lot, right now. Maybe later that won’t be so true, but I still like getting to go different places.”
Amira seemed to settle in and think about that, and her mother smiled at her. “Let them eat, love. I’ll be sure to drag Libby around as often as I can, while she’s here. And presumably you’d come back to PacIC once in a while.”
“I don’t hit here particularly often, but Matt’s still sort of in panic mode so I’m not sure what’ll happen after this job.”
“He’s stopped panicking at me, at least,” Dagny muttered. “What about you Brody?”
“No clue. I’ve got more than enough time to decide what I want to do for my second career, I’ll give it a bit and see what appeals to me.” He shrugged. “What about you, I heard they were restructuring.”
“I may get a promotion, but what they’re doing is still changing with the wind, so I’m not holding my breath.” Dagny smiled. “Still, it could be quiet for a bit.”
“Well, you picked good weather for a cookout,” Brody insisted, all smiles.
Libby shook her head at him, and dug into her food. It never used to bother her that her life was up in the air. If it was starting to, she might need to change some things. Matt was going to love that.