Chapter 2: You’re Very Special

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Message from: Alieen

This therapist they assigned to me is so incompetent. They forcing this sham of psychology on you too?

The room was bare.

It had furniture, a chair, a couch, and a desk. But it was all white. The walls didn’t have any artwork on them, and they were as pale white as the couch she was currently on. Bare of anything that would tell you about the person occupying the space. Sloane wondered if that was on purpose. Maybe they wanted you to fill it. Bare your soul in an empty room.

She sighed.

Tell them…Sloane. Kenneth’s voice hissed in her ear and she barely managed to suppress the flinch at his biting tone. Sloane squeezed her eyes shut against the tirade she knew was coming.

“Agent Roisin.” Came the stern and almost reproachful voice of her therapist.

Sloane’s eyes shot open and she gave the woman an apologetic smile. “Yes?”

“Medication still not working?”

Sloane shook her head, “Uh, yeah. It’s not.”

“We have a full house today?”

Sloane knew the woman couldn’t see the ghosts that haunted her, but it was almost comical. She was currently sandwiched between Kenneth and Lex. Sloane smirked, “Down right crowded, doc.”

“Okay, let’s try a new prescription.” The therapist moved over to her desk, and took out a file and handed it to Sloane. “Read this over, I’d like your thoughts.”

Sloane flipped through the report on the tablet, and sighed.

“What’s your evaluation of the agent?” The therapist pressed.

“Don’t see how it’s appropriate to evaluate myself.” Sloane arched an eyebrow and smiled, “You didn’t think I would pick up on that? I wrote this.”

The therapist sighed. “I’m trying to give you objective distance, Agent Roisin. You would never hold your colleagues to the unrealistic expectation you hold yourself to. You are a work in progress.”

Sloane’s brow furrowed, like she found that statement distasteful. “It’s a high expectation to bring your team home in one piece? So high that I should just assume people are going to die and lower my bar to half?”

“I’m saying you need to approach the situation logically, as squad leader you will be in this situation again-”

“Wrong.” Sloane interrupted her,  “I won’t be in that situation again, because I’m no longer squad leader and despite what you and Angela may think, I won’t be returning to the position. And once you sign off on my papers, I’m handing in my resignation.”

A soft beep sounded indicating their time was up. The woman sighed, perhaps disappointed that they had the same conversation every week. “We’ll continue this next time.” She moved to her desk to scan in Sloane’s new prescription. “Did you read the materials I gave you on AIs?”

Sloane nodded.

The therapist held her gaze, “And you’re still seeing Etienne?”

“Why would reading about AIs change anything?” Sloane asked as she stood.

“It gives you understanding, that no matter how …organic they seemed, they aren’t.”

Sloane went still.

Too still.

And then her fingers slowly curled into a fist.

“Don’t.” Etienne’s voice pulled her gaze to the window, his lithe frame leaning against the sill. “That’s not you.”

Sloane’s fingers slowly uncurled and she turned to leave without another word. “Try reading the emotional valence section.” The advice followed her outside and her steps halted.

“Sloane.” Etienne cautioned.

She turned back into the office, her fingers curling into a fist as her knuckles cracked against the cheek bone of the therapist’s too perfect face. The woman fell to the ground and looked up at Sloane, shocked, “What the hell?”

Sloane sneered, “Like you said, doc, I’m a work in progress.”

Message from: Sloane

To: Alieen

Is it bad when they refer you to a specialist?

Message from: Alieen

To: Sloane

No dear, it just means you’re very special.

Sloane waited in a very special training room, the ones used for guiding new agents through the intense physical requirements. She looked down at her phone, her finger hovering over Brenner’s name. The other woman had left her a voicemail, and she was…afraid to listen to it.

After a moment, she sighed, and just pressed play. Whatever the other woman had to say, Sloane deserved it.

“Hi, um. It’s Dr Brenner. Evelyn. I’m not sure if you would want to hear from me…or even if they want us to contact each other. The debrief was disconcertingly vague. But I don’t like to leave anything unfinished so… Thank you. I know for certain I wouldn’t be alive without you. And in case no one has said it, you did your best. For all of us. Even in my nightmares I know that fact. So screw them. You can message me anytime. If you want. I mean, I’m not good with people. You probably got that. But you’re good people. So yeah. (Long pause) Oh and I hacked the personnel database for your contact info. Sorry?”

Sloane didn’t realize she was crying until she tasted salt on her lips. She brushed them away on her sleeve hastily as she heard the door open. She looked up, and was greeted by the specialist.

Kyle Daklan.

Eliza Neil
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