With a deep sigh, Isaac pushed away from the table and stood. The door groaned open again and I could feel his expectant gaze on the back of my neck. I examined my hands for a few seconds before murmuring. “I know this may be hard for you to believe right now, but there are some of us who still believe in you.” As I met Victor Stone’s dark eye again a shadow of doubt clouded his expression. “There are even more who want to.”
I stood and exited the room with Isaac. Pausing by the officer who’d let us in, I gave him a grim look. “If I hear he was delivered to his cell with any more bruises or cuts than he already has, I’ll have you fired faster than you can spit on my shoes. Do you understand?”
The officer scoffed and looked at Isaac for confirmation of how ridiculous I sounded, but stopped mid-snort, his expression deflating. He clicked his heels together and gave me a firm nod, “Yes ma’am.”
I glanced at Isaac as we strode down the hallway. His eyes were dark, thick brows pulled so low they turned the green of his irises to black.
“Jeez, Ike. I thought for a second there he was going to crap himself.”
My partner’s scowl didn’t even crack. “Funny, Dr. Keller.” We reached the elevator and he punched the button. I smiled at the soldier by the doors, who nodded grimly. Everyone was so serious here.
“So, you think Stone will be of any use?”
Isaac’s expression lightened a few watts as he thought. “Maybe. He doesn’t seem stupid enough to try to contact his friends.”
“True, but as I was studying the file, I had a thought-”
The doors slid open and we stepped in. “Not again,” Isaac said with feigned despair. “The first floor, please.” He told the soldier standing in the elevator with us.
I shot him a glare. “Anyways, my thought was that as a teenager, my friends were my whole world, especially when my family didn’t understand me. I would’ve done anything to take care of them.”
“You think we can use the supe as bait?”
“Please don’t use that slur, but yes.” The elevator slowed and I had to grip the bar to remind myself how gravity worked. I hated elevators, though I would never admit that to Isaac.
As the doors parted, we were assaulted by a barrage of flashing lights. Isaac grabbed my arm protectively, putting himself between me and the cameras.
“Careful,” I teased, “I hear they can smell fear.”
The few pounds of worry I’d managed to coax off of his brow settled back again. “I thought you told them we didn’t do press.”
I gently pulled my arm from his grip. “I’m getting the feeling that officer didn’t like me enough to pass that along.” A short, clumsy man approached me from the mass of people and lights. I assumed he was the mayor.
Gripping my hand, he shook it vigorously enough to click my teeth the first time. “It’s Keller, right?” His voice was high and smooth.
I just nodded. “Yes, sir - Dr. Jenni Keller, and this is my partner, Isaac O’Malley.” The mayor looked at Isaac like he may snatch his hand as well, and abruptly changed his mind, nodding instead.
“Would you be willing to say a few words, Miss Keller?” He ignored Isaac completely and I had to battle the urge to say no. Upon my forced-cheery nod, the mayor motioned us to step forward with him. He ascended the steps to the podium, pulling the microphone down to his height.
“People of Jump City, I am here with two of the finest officials the government has, sent here to assist us with the threat these terrorists have imposed upon the safety of our neighborhoods...”
I could feel my irritation swelling even stronger, pushing against my ribcage. I exhaled hotly, fighting to keep my expression pleasant. Isaac stood behind me, assuming his typical role as my shadow.
After a few more bigoted comments from the mayor, he stepped down amidst energetic applause and motioned for me to take the microphone. The steps made me too tall, so I yanked the microphone from its stand and stepped around the podium.
“Thank you for the introduction, Mayor.” I smiled at him over my shoulder. Isaac’s chest swelled with a deep sigh and felt the smile grow a little more genuine. The mayor, for his part, looked giddy at the acknowledgement.
“Folks, I would like to start off by saying that our job is simple; to ensure peace and safety to everyone in this country. We value every American life - super and mundane - and that is why the government has created teams like ours: to help find those who are running and offer them protection.” The crowd grew silent, and I felt the discomfort of my words sink in. “We ask for each person’s help in this pursuit. Thank you.”
The silence carried after I set the microphone back on the stand and walked away, although the click of camera shutters accelerated. Isaac fell in stride with me as I walked towards the road, the mayor not far behind.
“I must admit, that was uh...not what the people expected to hear, Miss Keller.”
Fighting to keep the edge out of my voice, I replied, “I understand, Mayor, but it was what they needed to hear.” As we reached the road, a black sedan pulled up and Isaac pulled the door open. “Your people are already afraid, agitated, riled - almost to the the brink of rioting. A little reassurance will go a long way.” I slid into the seat of the car and Isaac started to the other side. The mayor looked like he wanted to object. “We’re all after peace, aren’t we?”
I gripped the handle on the door and smiled again. “We’ll be in touch, Mayor.” I felt a little smug as I closed the door on his shocked but thoughtful expression.
“So,” I turned to Isaac as the car pulled away from the cloud of camera flashes. “Where to now?”
“Well, if you plan on using him as bait, we’re going to need a trap.” He rolled his shoulders back and his eyes lit up, already anticipating the rush of the hunt. “To a hotel, for now. We’ll call D.C. in the morning. I have an idea, but it’s going to take some persuading.”
I smiled at him and batted my eyes. “Aren’t you glad you have me?”