It’s weird how quiet the city has been. Hardly any crime that the police can’t handle themselves, no meta threat that needs much more than just Apex showing up.
Which is good.
I love this city, I’ve fought hard to keep it safe, but I can’t say I don’t appreciate the calm.
Even though, given the team’s numbers have been severely reduced, criminals should want to make a big move. Take advantage.
But I’m grateful because I’m pretty sure if another crisis hits it’ll just be me facing it.
Not that I’m afraid–Apex is indestructible,.
Nothing can hurt me.
We’re halfway through the assigned sessions and while I’m definitely less pissed off at the very idea of therapy, that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable.
Simone isn’t my friend. She’s my therapist.
I’m distinctly reminded of that at this moment.
The file she puts on the table between us, the file with my name on it, is a show of trust.
Oddly, it also feels like a betrayal.
“What the fuck do you want me to do with this?” I ask, hands curling into fists.
Simone doesn’t look afraid at all. But I can’t tell if that’s just her game face.
For all I know, she’s always had a game face on around me.
“It’s been a month and a half,” she says instead of answering, which is typical and nonetheless stings, “since the judge assigned you mandatory therapy…”
“I know. I was there,” and if there’s a snide tone in my voice then, well, I fucking wonder why that might be.
Undeterred, she continues, “Aren’t you curious about your progress?”
“No,” I say. I reach out for the folder anyway. “Doesn’t this defeat the purpose? Aren’t you supposed to keep this a secret from me?” I ask as I scan the first page–just basic info about me, a summary of judge’s mandate, the reason behind the therapy.
“Not necessarily,” Simone says, “You’re a patient, not a lab rat. Keeping secrets from you isn’t going to help.”
I flip to the second page, where the therapist’s notes are meant to begin.
“This is bullshit.”
“You wrote that I’m bad at poker. And that I like jam on my pancakes.”
“Well,” Simone says dryly, “That is a weird thing to put on your pancakes.”
“No it’s not!” I defend, reflexively, “And that’s not the point.”
“How is me thinking the blue candy is supposed to be blue raspberry going to help anyone?”
“You say that a lot,” she says, always with her tangents.
I sigh, frustrated, “Say what?”
“You always bring up how something will or won’t help. How talking won’t help anything, how blue candy can’t help anyone, how you being here isn’t helping,” she looks at me, serious and steely and…
Simone is not my friend. She’s my therapist.
“You’re a person, Curtis” she says unexpectedly.
“No shit,” comes out automatically.
Her gaze turns sharper, somehow, “You’re not just a hero. You’re a person, too.”
My hands have been flipping through the file, more inanities over the past five sessions written in Simone’s slanted handwriting.
There’s a page that only has tally marks on the top. Five of them.
“You’re allowed to grieve for your friends. You don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to. You don’t have to talk to anyone if that’s how you feel. We can spend the next six sessions as we have the last few. I can fill pages of notes on your appalling taste in pancake toppings, or maybe I’ll bring in my hamsters for a session, or we can just sit quietly and not say or do anything.
"But do it because you don’t like me. Do that because you don’t like therapy. Burn through these sessions because they’re mandatory and you think they’re a waste of time. If you go home and cry and scream and punch things and mourn because you don’t want to do any of that in front of me that’s fine.
"Don’t stay quiet because you think that’s what you have to do. You’re allowed to grieve, Curtis.”
Five tally marks on an otherwise blank page.
Simone is my therapist, not my friend.
Maybe that’s a good thing.
Most of my friends are gone–gone to ground, gone back home, gone to the future, gone.
We are quiet for a long time. If Simone is disappointed, she doesn’t show it.
The chime from her phone sounds off, and the both of us stand.
Before I leave, though, I say, “His name was Brian, but on the field he used Griever.
"He was my friend, and now he’s dead.”