“Nothing?” Jeff moved out of the way of a young woman pushing an empty wheelchair.
“Yes.” LM said decidedly, like he wasn’t going to tolerate any arguments. “Nothing.”
“I don’t know. I might be right to worry. Or I might be overreacting. I might be paranoid. You might be right to tell me I’m wrong.” He sighed. “I just know that I’ll be relieved when Tessa’s finally out of here.”
“That’s nonsensical. Being out there—” LM flailed a hand gesture at the opposite wall. “—isn’t going to make her any safer. If anything, it will put her more at risk from errant cars, vampires, werewolves, random murderous humans/kidnappers, and so on.”
“That is true.”
“Of course, it is. Besides all that, she is an XQ. No one is going to kidnap her. If anyone dares to give it a try, she’ll flame-broil them.”
Jeff frowned. I don’t like her being called an XQ, as if she’s something lower than human. She’s my little girl. Laura’s baby. But she’s Laura’s baby all grown up and changed. Changed in so many ways.
LM huffed out an annoyed breath. “You’re making self-pitying faces. So, I’m leaving now. Bye. We’ll talk later when you aren’t being mopey.”
“I don’t see how a frown can be called a self-pitying face.”
“It can’t.” LM said. “But that’s not what I’m referring to. It’s those smaller expressions you don’t even realize you’re doing. And if I have to stay here and watch you keep making them, I will be annoyed.”
“You already are annoyed.”
“Well, I’ll be MORE annoyed. Bye.” LM turned and strode away.
Jeff frowned as a man, who was heading the opposite direction, stopped what he was doing and followed LM. All of Jeff’s hunter instincts kicked into gear. He reached back for Tsunachu, but, of course, it wasn’t there.
He ran after the man.
“Dr. Fillgreen, please return to the OR.” The man speaking on the intercom sounded weary. “Dr. Fillgreen, please return to the OR.”
People walked past LM. Some of them noticed his wings. Others did not. A small percentage tried their best to be oblivious, but they couldn’t resist doing some side-eye at his wings.
LM bristled out his feathers. No one looked at me that way at The Institute. They knew who I was. They accepted me.
He huffed out another annoyed breath. Of all the frustrating things. I accused Jeff of being mopey, but am I any different? No. But also yes. He’s moping about something that happened years ago. Something that has been resolved. He has his daughter back. She’s alive. She’s well. She’s talking. She’s walking. She’s going to be going home soon. What does HE have to be so mopey about?
“Dr. Fillgreen. Please return to the OR.” The person on the intercom sounded both weary and frustrated. “Dr. Fillgreen. Please return to the OR.”
Someone grabbed LM’s left trec lun bone and pulled him to a stop.
LM shot an irritated look at Jeff.
But it wasn’t Jeff.
It was someone else.
It was a clean-shaven man in dirty overalls.
He was no one that LM knew.
The man smiled. “Hello, pretty fey. I haven’t seen one of your kind in a long time.” He tightened his grip on LM’s wing. “Come with me or I’ll snap your wing.”