She doesn’t head back to the first dorm immediately, no matter how much the missing contact lens weighs on her mind as she tries to sleep. It would add suspicious behavior on top of an already suspicious practice, so she leaves it be. But it takes a while to fall asleep. She feels so vulnerable.
When morning comes around, the candidates find strange one-piece uniforms (which the others refer to as siren suits) in their lockers. Each of them have different colors and patterns–stripes and checker and tartan. Her black with grey pinstripes isn’t totally hideous, but she doubts she’ll look back at this outfit with any fondness.
She brushes her teeth in front of the mirror and stares at her reflection. One brown eye, one grey. One contact lens.
One is enough, technically, but the contacts work best in a pair. She stares long enough to make the message clear–she’s down a contact lens, and only her first day.
It unnerves her, but not as much as it does the recruits–minus Nathaniel–apparently. For most of them it’s likely because heterochromia isn’t something they encounter frequently; Mukuro’s tendency to frivolously use his abilities as he pleases has made her immune to his red eye, much less mismatching eyes of normal colors. But Abjit and Jamal, the names of her first two allies, she learns, were the only ones beside Nathaniel to have met her gaze when she had both contact lenses. They know it’s not her default state. But they say nothing.
Nonverbal alliance is the best alliance. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks the same.
“Can you see alright?” Nathaniel asks her quietly as the candidates arrange themselves in front of Merlin and several cages. Apparently, sort of saving his life means he feels free to talk to her whenever he pleases.
“Well enough,” She murmurs back. Perfectly, actually; the contacts aren’t prescription, after all.
When they’re instructed to pick a puppy, Merlin allows her to choose first. Whether as a courtesy for her Vongola envoy status, or for being the most active during last night’s underwater pop quiz, or for some other arbitrary reason she doesn’t know. But she appreciates it all the same.
As she approaches the cages, she shuts her eyes. Sight will be more a hindrance than a help, here. And anyway, she only recognizes a few breeds–an akita, a dalmation, a poodle–not that she knows why certain breeds would be better.
If she’s going to have a puppy forced on her, she wants one that will at least be useful in the future. It won’t match up with Yuzuru, her box familiar, but even real animals can handle some Flame maneuvers from what she’s seen of Hibird. Kyouya-senpai lucked out with Hibird being Cloud natured.
She lets out a small amount of Lightning Flames in front of each cage, deliberately ignoring the impatient grumblings of the other candidates, and tries to sense each puppy’s response.
It’s difficult–the puppies being so young and so small, and on top of that, their Wave Energy not yet manifesting in Flames–but one of them handles it better than the rest. When she opens her eyes its to look at the fuzzy face of a skinny black and tan puppy. When she carries it out of the cage it sniffs along her face, licks her chin, and settles calmly in her arms. She glances at the other cages, some of the puppies barking energetically and running in circles–this one is a good choice.
“The saluki pup. Good choice,” Merlin says briefly before waving one of the other candidates forward to make their choice.
She clips the leash onto her new puppy’s collar, and sets it down on the ground.
The rest of the day is rather peaceful–some running drills and getting used to having a four-legged shadow, some socializing amongst candidates. One of the female recruits, the one with what is apparently the brindle Staffordshire bull terrier, introduces herself as Vanessa.
After they are dismissed, everyone finds a kennel and their dry luggage at the foot of their bed. In addition, an unfamiliar small plastic case sits in her locker. When she opens it, the lingering sense of unease fades away. In a saline solution is her missing contact lens.
A/N: Meh… puppies?