Yet another false start (but not such a bad thing)

White-blonde hair whipped in the wind, so fast and hard that it nearly left a welt on Cassie’s pale cheek. She cursed under her breath, then pulled up her hood. It would not provide similarly effective protection against the imminent rain. But it was good enough for the moment.

She crouched on the edge of the roof, knees bent and hands clutching the edge. It was a comfortable position for one of her background. However, Cassie was a bit too self-aware for her own good. No matter how advantageous the position was, she always felt that she looked like a grey frog.

That far up, no one would see her save the pigeons. A group of them were clustered about the radiator, cooing stupidly.

Radio noise crackled directly into her ear. Grimacing, she reached up to accept the transmission. “Still clear,” she said, her voice low and firm.

“Geez, Cass. How long are you gonna stay up there?” The dulcet, annoying tones of her handler, Terrence Baker, increased the strength of the froggy mental image. She shifted herself so that she looked more like a perching bird than an amphibian.

“May I remind you,” she said, using as little volume and movement as she could without sounding like she was trying, “that this was your idea. You wanted me to take a break.”

“I meant you should take a holiday. Guard duty is not a holiday, it’s just boring.”

Beneath her, the city seemed to sigh in rich exasperation. She often felt that the landscape found its populace dull and repetitive. The grey buildings seemed to skew in the night, lights bouncing off of enough flat surfaces to make a ruler go numb from joy. It all skewed after only a few moments of staring. Cassie had been there for six hours.

Her headset crackled again. “Just come back. I’ll send Anna to relieve you.”

The name put a bad taste in her mouth. “You shall do no such thing,” she snapped, forgetting to modulate her tone and muscle usage. “Anna Garnis can lick me and go to hell.”

Laughter was not an appropriate response for a person in a position of authority. Terrence did not command much authority, even in his position. When he was done snickering, his voice came back a bit stronger, as though he were cupping his own mic closer. “I was not aware you possessed such a power in your skin. I’ll have to test it. Soon as somebody makes me angry enough.”

Silence overtook the conversation for a while, as Terrence enjoyed the aftereffects of his own amusement and Cassie stewed over the dropping of Anna’s name. Somewhere in the middle of a daydream murder, a thought struck her.

“Why did you call me? It wasn’t just to bug me. You wouldn’t have brought up Anna otherwise.”

He paused, clearly for the sake of drama. She could hear him breathing on the other end. “I bring her up in the spirit of competition,” he said, “there’s a new position to vie for. And I do know how you love vying.”

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