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In the aftermath of the city's abrupt release from Crime League control, Phoenix Talon made a beeline for the island base and did a thorough inventory of his possessions. All of it was there, but it was clear that someone had been going through his comic books. He couldn't quite remember the order they had been when he left, but he was entirely certain that it had changed in his absence—either Scott or the cops, he wasn't sure which was worse, and it seemed there was nothing he could do to vent his irritation. If Japan had taught him anything, it was that sometimes you would be all pissed off like that, and there was nothing you could do. He still didn't like it. He called Dawn to let her know that she could come back to base.
    "I'll be over tomorrow," she told him.
    "Did you see me on TV?" he asked.
    "Yes, dad."
    "We kicked ass. But Lucky wouldn't let me arrest her."
    "Don't you feel this was somehow more fitting?"
    "Yeah, I guess so," he admitted. "You're so smart, hon."
    Then the jet lag kicked in. He went to bed.
    Albert showed up soon thereafter, moved his few belongings back into his room, and collapsed into grateful unconsciousness.
    Scott checked the cave over more thoroughly and found that the hard drive he had supposed stolen had actually been kicked into a corner and was intact, which was a source of some consolation. Then it was off to K. Robeson for a brief reconnaissance and to fetch Needle's cat, which had remained at the office, apparently out of habit, and which did not want to get into its carrier but eventually had no choice. Then he, too, returned to the island and started catching up on the team's neglected paperwork.
    Lucky visited Chandler and borrowed his shower, wondering if she should try to overcome her hesitance in the matter of Winters.
    Around nine thirty, the base phone rang. Scott answered it.
    "Good evening?"
    "Hello, is this Scott?" a woman asked.
    "This is Senator Wood, how are you?"
    "Quite well, and yourself?
    "Good, good. I just wanted to congratulate you on the wonderful work you did today, inform you that of course the Revolution is fully reinstated, of course you already knew this, since you're at your base. I was wondering whether or not you've seen Needle?"
    He thought for a moment. "Last I saw her she was going to go keep an eye on the prisoner we had."
    "She's probably still doing that then. We had asked a message to be sent along to her, we were hoping to have one of the members of your team come out and discuss the last month with us in an informal setting, just to find out what happened, and we have to make the arrangements for the parade. Are you free right now? How long would it take you to get out here? We're still at the Senate building."
    "A couple minutes."
    "If you could come out, we'd appreciate it."
    He took a hovercyle over and gave Needle a call on the way. No answer. Probably asleep somewhere.

    Lucky made her decision and headed out to the station. She bought some flowers on the way. Couldn't hurt, could it? The cops were thrilled to see her, still under the aftereffects of Albert's influence. Winters wasn't in her office. Someone said that she'd gone home a half hour or so ago. Well, Lucky knew where she lived, had dropped her off there once. Not a great location. She climbed dirty stairs under the glare of a single bare bulb and knocked lightly. The door opened.
    "Yeah, come on in. What's up?" Jessica asked, sounding distracted. She appeared to be packing.
    "Leaving so soon?"
    "Reilly's coming back early tomorrow as a favor, I just got word about my brother." She continued throwing things into the suitcase on the couch. Lucky gave her a questioning look. "He's out in Santa Fe, he's... sick. Complications came up, I managed to grab an early flight tomorrow afternoon. Reilly got back into town yesterday, I already called him, we're going over everything tomorrow morning. Dammit...." she muttered, searching for something in the pile of clothes she was sorting through.
    "Have you had dinner?"
    "Yeah, I grabbed something on the way home. What's up, everything okay?"
    "Well, I just thought I'd come over and, you know give you my personal apology. And these." She held up the flowers.
    Winters paused for a moment and looked at her with raised brows. "I'm a little slow sometimes. Is this a date?"
    "It's whatever you want to make of it," Lucky equivocated.
    "Before we go any further, I'm straight."
    "All right, so it's not a date." Damn.
    "It's a nice thought, and ordinarily yes, but I have a lot I have to get done tonight. I have to be on a plane at three thirty tomorrow. I should be back in eight to ten days. Can we get a rain check until then?" she asked.
    "Sure. I just thought it would be nice to talk about things." At least she was being pleasant about it.
    Lucky looked around the apartment; cramped, medium furnishings, too much stuff in too small a space, although the bedroom was empty except for a futon, a lamp, and a scatter of books which may once have been a pile on the floor.
    "Thanks for not making this embarrassing," she said impulsively. "You could have."
    "Yeah, but there wasn't a point," Winters acknowledged with a faint sigh. "I should be back in eight to ten days, depending on what happens."
    "Do you mind if I ask...?"
    "He's got AIDS. I don't know how much longer he's going to be there, he was out of the hospital and now he's back in."
    "That's that immune system disease, right?"
    "Well listen, take care, and if you need anything from back east let us know, I'm sure we could find someone to..."
    "To ferry it out there, yeah. Thanks."
    She left the flowers on the bookcase by the door and paused for a moment to examine Winters' aura. It was a human aura, relatively strong, green, with a lot of mottled grey, which didn't tell her much. She'd seen Chandler's intensely blue aura, of course, and Needle's, which had been blue and red with that odd white streak, but she didn't know what any of it meant yet.
    "Well, I hope you have a good night."
    "I'm doing all I can," she replied with a faint, tired smile. "You guys did a good job today."
    "With your help. I'm sorry for losing my cool."
    Lucky left the apartment and stood for a moment in the bare outer hallway, then sighed. Oh, well, split milk. She headed for a downtown bar. No sense in wasting the rest of the night and all the public good feeling.

    Scott reached Senator Wood's office in good time and spent some time answering their questions. They were interested in the team's perspective on the past couple months' events, and especially in what they referred to as "the Promethean situation." What happened, who had he been fighting and why, and most importantly, had he been heard from and did the team have any plans to hunt him down? No, and to date, no. He answered them as best he could and rather wished Needle was around to help out with this little chore.
    And there was the parade, which they wanted to arrange by the next Saturday if at all possible, and wanted to make sure the team didn't mind. It all took about an hour and a half; the committee was very pleasant, altogether pro-Revolution. Given the changes which had recently been made to their low-level programming, this wasn't very surprising. He headed back to base and returned to his chores, cleaning up the mess the cops had left and filling in the small mountain of accumulated paperwork while across the bay Boston slowly quieted into sleep.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson