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Traumaswap: A puzzling tale of emotions

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Simon Blackquill was an attorney. At age 21 he had finished the bar exam and despite already knowing he would be fine. He wanted an edge. At now a tender age of 23 he had begged his sister to help him out with her connections. Aura called him competitive and ruffled his hair, but she had of course came through. She told him that he could be mentored by a friend of hers, Metis.

 

He bounced as he walked down the hallway. Excitement brewing in the pit of his stomach. Metis Cykes was going to be his mentor! He had followed her works for a long time, both in sword fighting and in psychology. 

“Hey!” He turned quickly to see a red headed girl running towards him. The girl caught up to him quickly and smiled pushing her hand towards him. 

“You must be Simon!” He shuffled his books into one of his hands and reached out. He noticed her grip was crushingly tight. He also noticed she had something akin to headphones around her neck, on one ear a smiling blue face. 

 

“I’m Athena! I heard you’ll be working with my Mom here!” He blinked at the girls enthusiasm. His hand still crushed beneath her. 

“Right...” he tried to appear upbeat like the girl despite the pain she was causing him. 

“Oh I’m so sorry!” She pulled her hand away quickly and muttered something that sounded like ‘jeez Athena’. Feeling as if he might’ve upset her he quickly attempted to change the subject. 

 

“I like your headphones.” She smiled before gripping the headphones around her neck and showing them to him. 

“Actually they’re more like earmuffs! My mom built them when I was younger because of my oversensitive hearing. They allow me to block out certain voices plus they help me lock in on how a person is really feeling!” She turned the ear part of the the muffs towards him and clicked on the smiling face. It booted up rapidly. She shoved the pair on him before he could protest. 

“Hello there!” He was startled by the mechanical voice. Athena just smiled knowingly. 

“You can access a holo-pad with this.” She showed off her glove and snapped her fingers. A holographic pad emulated from the contraption on him. She quickly scanned through things before closing it. 

“I use all this to sense things more accurately.” She moved her hands about wildly as she went into depth about how when she was a kid she couldn’t go to school because she was too sensitive to the discord in peoples voice when they lied and how she only had one really good friend named ‘Junie’.

 

Noticing she was rambling she froze and chuckled before swiping back her headphones. “I’ve had them for years. It was one of the first things I really worked on with mom and Aura. At his sisters name he widened his eyes. Aura? Helping out this girl? They seemed to be drastically different in both style and speaking, Aura being more reserved and gruff in mannerisms,coming off cold. 

   “She speaks really highly of you you know? I can hear it in her voice.” He realized he probably looked like a fish, if he did Athena didn’t point it out. She walked with him through the space centers hallway. 

“Mom’s lab is right down here! Aura’s is on the right but she’s in the bay room testing out some stuff with the pilots.” He nodded as they she stopped in front of the lab door. She knocked once and popped her head in before dragging in Simon behind her. 

“Behold I have found the new guy!” She gestured towards him with jazz hands. Awkwardly he waved.

 “Hello Cykes-dono.” The woman sitting at the desk turned towards him. She looked seldom like her daughter, with long greying brown hair pulled up and a yellow kimono covered with a lab coat bearing the logo of the centers lab. 

 

“Simon no need for formality. I’ve heard so much about you from Aura I feel I already know you!” The woman got up from her desk and moved to greet him. He awkwardly shuffled his feet. I didn’t know Aura talked about me so much. I have to thank her for getting me this apprenticeship again. 

“It seems you’ve found my daughter.” 

“Ah yes. Though I believe she found me.” Athena mocked shock from behind her mother and Simon held back a snort. He felt he could already befriend the girl. 

“Really Athena?” Metis turned around to face her daughter, voice betraying her amusement—obvious even without some high-tech headphones. 

“W-well”, she was startled by her mother turning. “You did say that you were looking for him!”

“Mhmm.” Athena seemed to deflate next to her.

 

“Well Simon, regardless it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m glad  could help you out. Courtrooms are always exciting. I know Athena has shown an interest in law as well.” He looked at the oddly dressed girl, quirking his eyebrows.

“Well it’s just an interest. I’m only 19 so I’m still debating majoring in robotic psychology or law.”

He nodded impressed, “defense attorney?” 

“Prosecutor, obviously.” Her voice held smugness and for the first time that day with his jittering nerves he let out an honest chuckle. Before they could exchange anymore jabs Metis chimed in. “I’m glad you two are getting along well but Simon,’ she turned towards him sharply, “I think it’s time for us to start your first lesson.” She showed off her teeth fully with the grin, reminding Simon of childhood memories with Aura. The ones right before she would sacrifice him to her toy robots. 

————

Metis was to put it lightly a genius. In a few weeks Simon had learned how to properly handle both hysterical witness as well as detect certain elements detecting the discord in ones testimony. Of course Metis chalked that up to observing Athena growing up. 

 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Mom was this close to making you your own widget sensor.” Athena emphasized her statement pinching her index finger and thumb together so they were almost touching. They were having lunch in a shop just around the corner from Cosmos. He snorted as he took a sip of coffee. Athena continued her rambling. 

 “Honestly I’m surprised she hasn’t just adopted you already.” He shifted a bit in his seat, parents were always an uncomfortable subject. His newly crowned best friend(who was he kidding he had very few acquaintances he would consider friends, leaving no contest for a best friend...There was Uendo and Bucky, but they were not always the best to be around when discussing personal details) noticed his fidgeting before staring at him directly. “Not that anyone could replace either of your parents Si.” Before he could tell her that he was okay she had already shifted gears to another topic. This one of Clonco nearly ripping off a young astronaut arm on Aura’s command after she found out he’d been harassing a younger intern of Starbuck’s, Clay, she said if he wasn’t mistaken. That was another thing he has come to find out while working at Cosmos. His sister, while not rough with him entirely, was a completely different person at her job. She was more gruffer that was for certain, but she seemed to genuinely care about the people she worked with. In her own weird way of course. However if the way she acted around Metis was any indication, she could be very pleasant when she really wished to. 

He tuned back into Athena’s spiel, “I do hope Clay does get to be an astronaut one day. He seems very eager. Very  determined as well.”

“Exactly! He’s really sweet. He’s going to be one! It’s definitely in his heart!”

“Well if anyone could be the judge of that, you certainly could.” She stuck out her tongue at him. 

“Rather childish, don’t you think Cykes?” She grinned. “Yeah only because you’re old!” She stuck out her tongue again and Simon stifled a chuckle. 

“Athena I’m barely four years older than you. In fact don’t forget you’re turning Twenty in a month.” She made a face. 

“Booo. I’m gonna be old like you.” He let out an amused huff. “Well guess we’ll just have to be old together then?” She smiled at that and held out her hand, pinkie up. She grinned at him challengingly and grumbled before giving in. 

“Do you Simon Blackquill, promise to grow old with me?” He could’ve laughed at the absurdity of it. In a cafe, this girl he had known for two weeks, was making him promise to grow old with her, after he jokingly said it. Friendship is weird he decided before linking his pinkie and promising. 

“Good now I can tease you even more!” He gaped at her and she let out a maniac laugh that at least two people in the shop turned around to bare witness. 

“That most certainly was not made aware when I allowed this deal. I call for the contract to be nullified.” He deadpanned. 

“Nope. No takesy-backsy.” He expected her to stick out her tongue again in some act of defiance but instead she turned to her chocolate croissant, shoving a large bit into her mouth. 

—————

“Bro you so do not have a hawk!” An excited Clay boomed from his spot in the rec-room, extracting a pudding cup from the refrigerator. 

“Oh he sure does! Her name is Taka and he brought her in yesterday!” Athena had practically vibrated when Simon had brought it Taka when he couldn’t leave her out that day. It was too cold for the still fledgeling and he wasn’t leaving her indoors all day. He couldn’t let her get bored and Aura would kill him if she caught Taka destroying her stuff again. 

 

“Actually she’s a Falcon.” He chimed in. 

“That’s so cool! I wish I could’ve been there but Mr.Starbuck has been having me help out with fixing out the panels out on the roof.” He deflated 

“Aww that’s too bad.” Athena spoke and Clay perked up again, fired up. 

“That’s okay though! It just means I’m one step closer to getting into the Space Program Officially! Not as an intern but as an actual Astronaut.” Simon noted the way Athena’s eyes sparked when he talked and he understood that Athena could tell he was true to his words. Anyone could. 

Athena got up and swiped the pudding cup from Clay before he could open it. She grabbed a spoon and dodged Clay’s attempts at getting it back. 

“Well I gotta get back to work. I’m finally decided. I’m gonna go get my degree and become a prosecutor.” She directed her grin at Simon. 

“Then we really can face off!” He looked up in surprise and a grin plastered on his face. 

“Wonderful Athena. Though don’t expect I’ll go easy on you.” He shifted to glare at her. 

“Oh damn I’d pay to see that!” Clay laughed. “Though Athena if you ever go up against my friend Apollo in the future, watch out he might blow out you eardrums.” 

 

      ————

“Simon!” Simon swiveled his head from the papers in front of him, watching a young boy run toward him. He acknowledged the boy with a nod. 

“Clay. What are you doing over here? Aren’t you supposed to be shadowing Starbuck at all times?” Simon quirked his eyebrows and the boy wrinkled his nose,making the bandage on it crinkle. 

 

“Hey I’m allowed a little leeway! Plus Mr.Starbuck told me to give you these!He said they’re supposed to be reviewed by you and Mrs.Cykes.” The boy handed him a stack of papers with a quick grin and a little two finger salute. 

“Hmmm that’s strange, Solomon doesn’t usually need our work on his projects. Unless of course he wants Metis to review a potential astronaut’s psychological state.” Clay nodded. 

“I know right. He’s been off. He seems too... well I don’t know it’s like he’s hiding something.” Simon gave another hum at that. 

“Perhaps he’s promoting you to payed intern Clay” He joked and Clay gave a huff and made a look of mocked shock. 

      “I don’t care if I get paid or not now, I’m gonna work here in the future either way. Sure as my friend ‘Pollo’s gonna be a lawyer!” A look of determination was evident on the teenagers face. 

 

“Ah I don’t believe you’ve told me about this friend.” Clay turned to him, wide eyed. 

“Apollo’s gonna be a defense attorney one day! He’s actually studying at themis next fall. There’s a lawyer named Gavin who offered him a job straight away but ‘Pollo says he’s a bit off.” As Clay went on Simon recalled the Gavin he mentioned. The man was certainly deemed worthy of the title ‘coolest defense in the west’ but as Clay said, he was a bit off. There was something untrustworthy about him. Perhaps he should bring Athena on a covert mission to use her hearing on him. Realizing if he were to do that Athena would come up with another scheme to bring whatever he’s done to light and knowing it wasn’t worth the trouble afterwards he reasoned that perhaps that was another days plan. 

 

“And then Apollo freaked out about the dude because ‘oh no he has a freakin’ motorcycle and is really hot but also a complete jerk!’—his words not mine.” Snapping back to the present conversation he realized he hadn’t heard a full word of Clay monologuing about his best friend. 

“Well your friend seems to be in a bit of sorts.” Simon shuffled some more papers, grabbing a psych evaluation file to look over later. 

“Yeah no duh! He obviously has the hots for this dude and he won’t ever confess because he’s a wimp.” He blew a puff of air and fixed his visor. “It’s annoying and kinda sad, but that’s Apollo. I’m hoping they at least get together before I go to space.”

“Well that is a long long time away so don’t be alarmed yet.” 

“Hey! I bet I’ll be up in space before I’m old like you!”

 

“I’m 23.” Simon deadpanned. “Still old!” 

Simon snorted. “Silence. Now get back to where you’re supposed to be. I’m sure Solomon is wondering where you are by now.”

Clay laughed. “Fair enough then. Catch you later Simon!” He headed out before popping his head back in’ “and tell Athena I said hello!” 

 

Simin shook his head. “Kids these days”, he furrowed his brow when he realized what he said. Hanging out with these people have made me old. Maybe Metis is rubbing off on me?  He shuffled the file he was planning on reading at home into his bag. He checked it quickly ‘Profile:Phantom[Restricted access]’ on a sticky note attached to it, scrawled in Metis’ neat handwriting:

 ‘Simon, this profile is very important. Make sure no one gets a hold of it other than you. Next time I see you I’ll explain the finer details.’  He felt something in the pit of his stomach before pushing it back down. Something about those words made him feel on edge. 

 

                 ———

There was something off. Simon could feel it. There was a weird almost chill to the air. Pushing it down, he moved forward through the space center. Towards Metis’ lab. Thats when he heard the sniffles. Turning quickly he headed towards the noise. There was a figure scrunched up in the corner but that wasn’t what drew his attention. What did was the body in the center of the room, chest bloodied and knife sticking out. 

 

He ran quickly to the body, checking for a breath, a pulse, anything indicating that the male was alive. 

No no no NO! He heard more sniffles and turned his head back to the corner, realizing that there was a very much alive and probably witnessed what happened. He felt a pang of sorrow rip through for this person. Approaching slowly he showed his hands. As if he were approaching a scared animal.

 “Hello?”

A sharp shaking breath was heard from the body. In a flash they looked up. 

 

Clay

Simon!” He looked ragged, blood stained the boys shirt and his hat was off his head, hair wild. His voice was broken. Simon grabbed his jacket and wrapped it quickly around the boy. 

“Clay are you okay?” He kept his voice calm, knowing the boy could break. 

“NO!” He sniffed again and a sob broke out. “He’s Dead! The director’s dead!” 

He tried his best to calm Clay, using what he learned from Metis. A scream broke out and both men stared at the maker of the noise. 

 

“Athena!” Simon yelled. Running up to her to cover her eyes. She dodged him quickly and ran to Clay. 

“Clay! What happened?!” She was wide eyed and looked over Clay, searching for injuries. 

“I-I don’t know.” He curled in again on himself and Athena hugged him. Holding on to him tightly. 

“Simon?” She towards him. “What are we going to do?” He looked and her grimly. 

“I don’t know.”

 

 

The cops had shown up thirty minutes later, hounding Clay and then Simon. 

“What did you do?!”

“How could you kill your own boss?!”

“Why did you kill him?” Clay was bombarded question after question. 

“Was it anger? Was he going to boot you from the program? Were you so enraged by the fact you couldn’t have your dream that he couldn’t either!” 

“No no NO”! He screamed, then he broke. He sobbed. “No.” 

“He was my friend.”

“He was my mentor.”

“He got me my job, why? Why would I kill him? I owed him everything!” Then it stopped. It all stopped. 

 

“I did it! I killed him!” 

That voice was suffocating.