The Fourth Generation
Siphon: So…when was anyone going to tell me about zombie girl?
A message or two pinged back on the screen, but before I could read or respond to them I had noticed a pair of eyes spying at me. I turned it off quietly, staring face to face with a ghost. Or more appropriately, the resident amnesiac.
“What?” Before this, I wasn't really sure what I was expecting out of today. It was pretty quiet in the Sanctuary, especially when the group decided to run off to Canada for a bit before. Without me. And while they did God knows what, I got to have my own kind of fun. Like being reminded by my connections that my credit payment was past due. As if that was news, but being hounded by Ghost was it's own special kind of pain in the ass.
“You called me a zombie.” It was hard to tell if she was annoyed or not at this point. Most of her expressions revolved around one emotion; suspicion. Which directed at me isn't entirely in the wrong.
“Well, yeah. You kind of died.” I stuffed my phone into my pocket, as she followed my hand with her eyes. It also didn't help that she was a little too close for comfort. Did she forget how personal space worked too?
“But I didn’t die.”
“The rest of your team didn’t know that. And your little farewell message sort of hammered that idea pretty clearly.” She leaned away from me when I threw that at her, something akin to sadness on her face as she kicked her feet against the floor.
“Well, I suppose the intention of…of dying is a truth at it's core…” Oh jeez, I did not sign up to be a therapist today.
“Then you shouldn’t be surprised when everyone you knew thought you died.” She nodded her head silently, probably reflecting on a history that evaded her. I reclined against the couch, feet kicked against the coffee table as my heel shoved a familiar mask off the surface. A large crack was a recent addition to the design however as I felt my hand rub my face. Nothing seemed broken at least, even if it was sore from the blunt force trauma.
I guess I deserved it though, walking around with that on, I'm sure I was inviting trouble. Vanessa looked over as the mask clattered against the floor, before going over and picking it up.
“Sorry again for punching you.” She ran her fingers over the crack as well, as I rolled my eyes and waved my hand away from my face.
“Honestly, you punching everyone is normal. Dead or not apparently.”
“I’m not dead.”
“Yeah yeah yeah walker.” She gave me a confused look as I dismissed the name, taking the mask back from her instead.
“Look, just forget about it. You're back, and all of your weirdo friends are happy for it. You might want to consider paying them back for the expenses though since you’re a little late coming home.” She lifted her head up a bit, looking at me curiously.
“What do you mean expenses?” I raised a brow at her. Just how much did she forget about the world again?
“What do people usually do when someone dies?” I must’ve missed something, because the look on her face just screamed stupid.
“They get replaced.” Okay, this took a jarring left turn. I shook my head, reaching punching her arm.
“No-What?-No! They hold a service. A funeral? You have a grave.” This BodyGuard nonsense really was fucked up. Her eyebrows raised up, surprised.
“Oh…” I shook my head.
“Yeah, that’s what people do in the real world. Congrats, you’re human.” She gave a single nod in understanding, and silence hung above us for a while. I tried to distract myself with Max's television settings, but a weird tension started to grow in the room. I skimmed through show titles, but at this point I had watched everything worth while. It didn't seem like I was going to watch anything new anyway, with the way she was trying to say something. Finally, after she started fidgeting, I groaned loudly.
“Whaaaaaat?” At least that seemed to give her the push she needed.
“Can…we go see it?” What the hell was she talking about?
"See what?" She avoided my eyes while looking for the words again. It was weird seeing this side of her. Someone who used to be so headstrong to the point where she'd go barreling into danger, dancing around a request was strange. I guess it was clear that what she said was unusually abnormal as she cleared her throat. Or maybe it was just really obvious on my face.
“My grave…" Okay, what the absolute fuck. She began to back peddle as I'm sure my expression went from mildly disinterested to slightly disturbed.
"I just thought, maybe, it would help me remember or something. We don’t have to, obviously. Just forget-“
She paused, surprised by my response. I was a little surprised too, why did I agree to that? Before she had a chance to say anything though, I snapped my fingers at her, ending with a point. Maybe I could get something out of this.
“But, in exchange, you’ll owe me a favor. Deal?” I extended my hand out, and this brought a look of suspicion to her eyes. To no ones surprise.
“What do you need my help with?” At least she was smart to ask questions. But amnesia or not, Shield still had secrets. And from the sounds of it, that hasn't changed.
“A lot of things I’m sure, but consider this instead.” She kept her eyes on me, hooked.
“You asked me, to show you your grave. Not your friends.” That silenced her as she kept my gaze. The longer she took to respond, the more I relaxed, she was easier to read than before. Sure it might've been a little manipulative, but in the end this was an exchange.
“I can tell you're having some trouble finding your words, so let me enlighten you.” She watched me with a cold stare as I cracked a few knuckles.
“You asked me, instead of your happy crew, because you don’t want to open up old wounds. You heroes might not have the same ideals, but the way you guys run the place is. You think of others before yourself, or think of the greater good. And you might trust your friends, sure, but there’s something clawing at you." Another collection of pops from my other hand now caused her eye to flinch.
"At least with me, there’s a comfort in relying on strangers. I'm not your friend, Shield. I'm not someone you care about. And in the end, I don't care about you.” Her eyes looked over my body, while she mulled over the thought.
Silence filled the room as I could hear the gears turning in her head. After a long moment, she relented, giving a single, silent nod. I offered my hand again.
“Do we have a deal Shield?”
It only took a few moments before she carefully took my hand, giving a shake. I could tell she was uncomfortable with the contact, as she released her grip quickly.
“Good, follow me.”
It was a bit of a trek, going from the Sanctuary towards Halcyon Cemetery, but it was doable. As weird of a field trip this was, it’s still a pretty cheap price to pay. A walk from the trails, a couple of bus stops, and a little fence hopping, and we were there. The sun was out, and all across the landscape were stones. Vanessa had hesitated when she finished climbing the fence, looking out at all the graves. I could feel my phone in my pocket buzz again, but I ignored it, turning to look at her while she stood frozen in place.
“Are you coming or what?” That seemed to knock her out of it as she followed behind me, reading the names as we passed them by. Flowers were left on some, while others looked as if they had seen better days. Better days for the dead anyway. I snapped my fingers again when she had gotten distracted. She didn't seem to appreciate the motion though, so I began to walk a little faster. I didn't want to get punched twice today.
“Come on, we’re almost there, then you can read all the names you want.” We climbed a small hill, keeping a slight distance between us, before I noticed we weren’t the only visitors. I held my hand out and she stopped, looking peeved at following my orders.
“What is it?” she peered ahead, and over by the grave site was a girl. Pacing back and forth in front of the stone, it looked like she was fuming. As if one hot-head wasn't enough. But one thing was clear about this situation. The blank expression on Vanessa's face confirmed a suspicion that had entered my mind. They hadn’t re-introduced her to everyone yet. And if they didn't do it yet, it certainly wasn’t my job to do it.
“Just some girl, but we should let her be for a bit. It would be rude to interrupt her.” Vanessa merely nodded her head at that, hands in her pockets while she read more names of the stones nearby. It took a couple of minutes, and what looked like a tantrum, before the girl finally left. Her outburst caught the attention of Vanessa again, as she looked between myself and the girl.
“Is she going to be alright?” I stood back and watched as her eyes followed, until she disappeared from view. I blew some hair out of my face, disinterested.
“I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
I’m not really sure what I was expecting. The stone was damaged in the lower right corner, but everything else looked relatively unchanged since the service. Except for the weird feeling of having a dead person beside you. I wonder if this is what being haunted feels like.
She just stared quietly at the stone, as if she was trying to memorize every detail of it. She'd lean down, letting her hands run over the letters, and the crack that tore it apart.
I rocked on my heels while she took her time examining the grave. While I tried to pretend this whole situation wasn’t at all bonkers, I began to skim through my phone. I had gotten a few responses from before, as well as a few notifications from potential customers for a sale or two.
L'Esprit: Sorry, we've been a bit distracted.
Calavera: Are you at the Sanctuary?
Reflect: Why is he still allowed to walk around at the Sanctuary?
Ah Reflect. Always a pleasure. I let out a sigh, sending a quick message out before looking back at Vanessa again. Seems like I could leave her alone to this for days, and she'd still be here.
Siphon: It's fine, it's not like I'm a part of your little club anyway. Decided to take the Metal Head out for a field trip, we'll be back later.
“Was it everything you hoped for and more?” It was a weak taunt, but I was honestly wigged out. She stood over the rock for a moment longer before standing up again. She had this distracted, almost distant look in her eye as she looked out towards the rest of the plot.
"Uh, earth to Vanessa?" She made this quick motion that made me flinch in response, but when I realized she wasn't going to hit me I relaxed. Only to realize she started walking off.
“Hey, hey! Where do you think you’re going?” I was NOT going to get blamed for losing her in the middle of Halcyon. At least not this time.
“I’m not sure.” Well that was reassuring. I followed behind her as she made a bee line through the cemetery. After a bit of what seemed like aimless walking, she finally stopped and looked around at the surrounding stones. I walked over to her with my hands in my pockets, looking around with her.
"So? What are we here for?" she looked a little lost at this point, scratching her head while looking around.
"I thought…I thought I remembered something." I raised a brow at that while she started looking more distraught.
"You thought you remembered something? Like what? It's not like you were here for your funeral." Her hand reached down and gripped at her shirt tightly, while a pained expression crossed her face.
"It wasn't mine…I remember standing here, and I remember attending a funeral…" It was a little surprising to hear her say that. Mainly because I wasn't actually expecting her to remember anything by coming here. But at the same time, maybe she was just lying out of her ass. But from the look of distress on her face, it didn't seem like she was. I stood directly in front of her, gently placing a hand on her shoulder, as I would begin to herd her back the way we came. I had finally had enough of this place. And from a couple of insistent vibrations, it seemed like our little day trip needed to end anyway. Jeez it's like those losers don't trust me or something.
"The only funeral I know of, was the one where you were the guest of honor. If there was any other special event, I don't know about it." She looked at me with a pained expression on her face, although I couldn't tell if it was her headaches coming back for her, or if she was feeling something else. She brushed my hand off of her, before retreating back into her jacket.
"It's fine…thanks for taking me here Thomas." It was a quiet thank you, but the sincerity was real. I wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulled her close, and snapped a picture. Immediately afterwards, I was punched in the face. Thankfully, nothing broke.