Val sprinted up the stairs. She’d gotten a stitch in her side on the fourth floor and was still climbing. Why was this building so big? What did a courthouse need besides a few courtrooms, some private offices to bribe people inside, and maybe a food court? What exactly was on all of these floors? Nothing interesting, that was for sure. She caught the thoughts of a few frightened bystanders hiding under desks and gave them a telepathic nudge to get out of the building, but there was no sign of the action yet. Wait—
The feel of a punch knocked her back a step. She wavered and barely managed to catch her balance. That was White Knight’s mind. He and Jeffries were fighting, and she stayed on the very edges of their thoughts so she wouldn’t feel any more hits. They weren’t alone. Nearby, someone dashed down a hallway, calling for JB. That would be the DSA agent in the ugly brown pantsuit. Val couldn’t remember her name. But where was JB?
Val raced up one last flight of stairs, the kid’s panic calling her like a blinking neon sign. She could feel the sweat dampening his shirt and dripping down his face. His hand touched the plaster wall, tracing it as he tried to find the stairs, but each doorway he reached had furniture inside. Where was the damn stairway? He’d gotten turned around and there wasn’t enough time—
“JB!” she shouted. She could see him now, moving in quick jerky steps. He stopped at the sound of his name, and the sheer explosion of emotions he felt made Val lightheaded.
“I can’t find the way out,” he said in a dazed voice. “I keep looking into the future, and no matter what I do it’s just the bone-shaking boom of the explosion and the building crushing me as it comes down. I can’t get it to change.”
The kid needed a hug. Val…was not a hugger. She settled for clapping a hand onto his shoulder and saying in a soft voice, “Relax. I told you I’d take care of you, didn’t I?”
He threw his arms around her and…okay, yeah, this was a hug. There was a distinct sniffling sound coming from his head near her shoulder, and he was shaking. Val stood very stiffly and still. Was this what Stockholm Syndrome felt like? He was more upset than she’d thought.
Get over here! she told the DSA agent.
“Um, how’s the future looking now?” Val asked.
The kid pulled away from her, his lips pressed tight. “I’m…I’m back in the car with your driver.”
“Good. I know you weren’t thrilled when we picked you up, but it sure beats this place, huh?”
“You’re not with us.”
“I know. I’ve got some business to take care of with Jeffries. He won’t be bothering you again, trust me.”
“But the bombs—”
“I’ll be fine.”
The DSA agent ran up noisily behind them. “What are you standing around for? Are you waiting for a written invitation to vacate the—”
Val dove into her mind, and the woman froze with her mouth half-open. Val didn’t have time to do anything fancy, but she gave the agent a very specific set of instructions.
“Go with her,” Val told JB. “She’ll get you out.”
“Do I need to mind-control you, too?”
The kid shuffled his feet. “No…”
“Then go. I’ll see you soon.”
Agent Lee came back to life and took JB by the arm. “Come on. We’re getting out of here.” She pulled him to the stairs. Val watched them go until a small boom shook the floor. She flinched, but it wasn’t the bombs going off. It was two super-powered men beating the crap out of each other. Val followed the sound, passing several holes in the walls and one broken door, and came upon the scene.
White Knight. Watch any one of his TV interviews, and you’d be struck by three things. One: with a strong jawline, broad shoulders, and tanned skin, he was more than just a little attractive. Two: he was polite and incredibly humble on screen. And three: he was boring. Sinfully boring. Change-the-channel-after-thirty-seconds boring. The DSA must have had a collective orgasm when they’d recruited him. He had super-strength, good looks, and absolutely no chance of doing anything interesting enough to cause a scandal.
But when he was fighting? Oh, wow. Now that handsome face was sporting a purple bruise, his uniform was torn, and he had Jeffries in a headlock. White Knight’s brown eyes burned fiercely as he looked as if he was trying to choke the life out of the supervillain. Much more interesting. Jeffries bucked and writhed, slamming White Knight into a wall, but it seemed to do more damage to the wall than to White Knight.
Then Jeffries slammed his foot into White Knight’s inner calf, and the hero stumbled, his grip around Jeffries’ neck loosening. Jeffries grabbed White Knight’s arm, and what happened next was a blur. He threw White Knight over his shoulder and slammed him into the floor.
No, make that through the floor. White Knight’s body hit it with an earsplitting crack that broke through tile and wood and sent him plummeting to the next floor down. Jeffries staggered back, but the floor beneath him crumbled, and he fell from sight.
Val stared at the now empty hallway for a long moment.
After calling my internet company, waiting, fiddling with my router, calling again, more waiting, getting a new router, trying the same thing again, and having someone from tech support come to my apartment, I finally have internet! My apartment is still full of boxes because a busy first week at work has left me with no time/energy to unpack, but I have my laptop, wifi, and a chair to sit on, so I’m good. 😉
I’ll be returning to my regular update schedule, with the next post on Monday, August 22nd.