[This isn’t someone she’s met so far, which says something. After all, she’s been at the Institute for a fair amount of time while still being newish. She watches as the beam hits her wrist and smiles to herself. Patient check. She was just relying on eyes and on voices. The voice was what had tipped her off. Not one she had learned to overhear.] I promise I’m not faking it either. Just walking the halls.
[Honor blinks at the phone light for a second before smiling for real. Much better.] Could barely handle walking into it. Being out here’s better. It’s not so bad without extra light. Sort of sketchy, but I like it. At least I can walk around and stretch my legs. Not sure I want to chance my sessions outside with the storm and all. Anyway, who’re you? We haven’t met before.
I hadn’t even considered that option…maybe I’ll keep that in mind the next time I meet an unfamiliar face.
[The woman’s words remind her of her own office, usually cozy and compact, but in this kind of situation, it was claustrophobic and stifling.]
This place is always a bit sketchy, if you ask me.
I’m Zo, nice to meet ‘cha. Will you walk with me? [Zo agrees with the blonde, it does feel good to stretch out a bit, and they might as well do some exploring as a pair while they chat.] I work with the technology and I’ve just got back from a small leave of absence so that’s probably why we haven’t met just yet.
[Thomas feels bad partially for being so serious and not happy like he usually is, however, he can only think of all the other girls who just vanished without a word.]
I-… I was worried. I thought you hated me.
[Listening to his words attentively, the serious atmosphere is shattered when Zo turns her head sharply to him and smiles, hoping the dim light nearby illuminates enough of her face that he can see it.]
What? No, not at all, Thomas!
Don’t ever think that because if I did you’d know. But you don’t need to worry because— I don’t. [The darkness is kind of comfortable now, now that she’s had some time to bask in it a little. Her next question is soft, and filled with as much affection as she can manage.]
How have you been?
[Thomas manages a weak smile, not sure what to say.]
Where-… Where did you go? I-… I didn’t hear from you for like two weeks, Zo.
[Thomas is unusually serious and as soon as he speaks, she feels it in waves.]
I…there were things going on with my family, Thomas. Sudden, and really serious things that I needed to take care of. [Zo is reminded suddenly, of that frantic phone calls a few weeks back, and her subsequent request for a leave of absence. Her gaze lowers, and she blinks away the unpleasant thoughts.]
I’m— I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left so suddenly. And I should have told you. Just…things got bad really quickly.
[Honor had given up on sitting in her office. The papers were worthless here with the darkness and she didn’t fancy sitting there with a flashlight. It was much nicer to walk the hallways, eyes adjusted to the shadow that came with the dim lighting. She sees the flight light beam arch up and down and turns, hands on her hips.] Just me, as far as I can tell. All’s quiet.
[The voice is definitely female, but it’s one that she’s never heard. Then again, she’s been gone for a bit, but Zo flashes the light towards the voice, catching the tip of someone’s shoe. After a second of hesitation she moves the beam upwards towards the wrist just to make sure.]
Okay. Not a patient. Good. I can handle another staff member.
[After deciding the other woman is safe enough to approach, Zo unlocks her phone and points it upward so the brighter light is equally distributed.]
So, you couldn’t handle being in your office either, huh? Though being out here does creep me out…a lot.
[Thomas turns around at the familiar voice, his heart sinking, yet soaring at the same time.]
[The voice is familiar and welcome. Even though she knows he can’t really see it, Zo lets a relieved smile appear on her face because if anyone knows his way around Belvedere at any given time, it’s Thomas.
And she missed him.]
That I am!
[She’s careful to stick to the walls, but eventually Zo gets close enough that she can reach out to take a hold of Thomas’ hand to anchor herself in the near darkness.]
You wouldn’t happen to have extra batteries, would you? I’d feel a lot better catching up with some proper light.
[Christian knows fear through memory. He has felt it, thus he knows how this stranger must feel. Uneasy. Apprehensive. Cautious. Frightful. Nervous. Understanding impressions through experience. He can imagine it, therefore he has known it first hand— as something cannot come from nothing. But he is no longer a boy, all flesh and soft. He has hardened like a broken bone, misshapen and incorrectly set perhaps, but stronger than ever. And what fear— no matter how small or silent— the doctor once felt, he consumed and destroyed.]
[What once went bump in the night is now his ever faithful shadow.]
[The dark does not frighten a man blind to it.]
Just me. [Comes his reply, like a smiling, slithering snake through a garden. He’s standing a step away from the emergency light, half hidden in the darkness, half illuminated by the glow.]
And I almost tried to crush your skull in with my elbow.
I don’t think you should go sneaking around like that in the dark.
[Her heart is beating at an entirely uncomfortably fast pace and Zo shines the beam at the man’s torso. Seeing his professional attire comforts her quite a bit because even though the emergency lights are on, they only serve to cast more shadows.]
But, who are you?
As if taking care of my mother wasn’t stressful enough.
[After a few frustrated bangs of her hands against the desk, Zo stands, fumbling in the darkness of her office for the flashlight she knows is somewhere around here. Reaching for her door, she opens it and props it open with one foot, letting the dim emergency lights from the hall flood in to barely illuminate the area.
Bumping her elbow against a monitor, she curses, but finds the flashlight. It flickers weakly, and isn’t really all that helpful, but Zo takes it, grabbing her phone and keys as well, before walking out into the hallway and pointing the light down.]
…I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to…
Oh yeah! We’re allowed to dress up as long as it’s, ah, appropriate, you know?
Do you have anything in mind? I’m pretty handy with a sewing machine…I could help if you want.
Shit, that’s perfect. I’m goin’ as a mummy.
Sounds like a plan! ‘s pretty easy costume, as long as you’re not too rough with it. Toilet paper isn’t the sturdiest of materials…though if we used anything more, that might be a choking safety hazard and the boss-man might yell at me.
Or stare me down with that ‘look’. Either or, it’d be terrifying. He kind of intimidates me.
[Thomas smiled hearing Zo’s voice from down the hall, he turned and walked over to her.]
Hey there beautiful. You look stunning!
Don’t look so bad yourself, Captain. [Zo can’t help but smile at his costume. It was a good salute to the thing that Thomas loved the most. And, stepping a little closer, she gave his hand a quick squeeze. She wasn’t by any means affectionate, but she hoped he would understand. They were still working, technically, after all.]
And not to boast, but I think we did a pretty good job with the decorations, if I say so myself…