Should You Tell Anyone Else



Scene Title Should You Tell Anyone Else
Synopsis Aman was warned.
Date August 11, 2020

Aman's Townhome, Northern Roosevelt Island

It's been a hell of a Monday.

Amanvir lets his front door behind him close so heavily it might as well have slammed. He spins the deadbolt and then sloughs his boots off by the door, beginning to unbutton his work shirt while his socked feet slide heavy across the front walk. One hand comes away to turn on the hall light and give him guidance to both walk by and work by.

He's not sure who the tiredness belongs to, exactly— him or Odessa or if it's somewhere in between. More likely than not it's the latter. Today he worked a double, though, and he feels it down to his soul.

God, it'll be great when Shaw's back from leave.

With a heavy sigh, he trudges into the living room and finishes unraveling himself from his Pigeon Courier Services uniform, balling the shirt up and pitching it roughly at the armchair by the television. Maybe he should just grab a beer, watch some television, and pass right out on the couch. It's an idea he can't find a counter for, so he turns to the darkness leading toward the kitchen and begins to walk that way.

Practically into the muzzle of a gun pointed at him in the dark.

Oh, god. Oh fuck. Aman's adrenaline spikes instantly even though he's tired from the day. There's no room to run— they'd almost certainly successfully fire on him if he attempted to run for the cover of the hall. Could he dive them, try to disarm them? No— there's just enough room of distance to not have the confidence he could get there in time before leaning into the shot that might be fired at him.

The wide-eyed look that he gives his intruder shrouded in the shadow is enough indication that he's seen them now, and they speak.

"You fucked up, Amanvir."


Of all the people he expected to break into his house and hold him at gunpoint, the Oni herself had been at the bottom of the list. He thought he'd never see her again.

But he knows exactly why she's come, even if he doesn't know what specifically set her off. And when she takes a step forward, at first, all he does is begin to lift his hands slowly. The push of external calm down onto him is such a dissonance it leaves him hollow, neither panicked nor calm; just shut down. The terrorist hacker that encroaches upon him is almost a foot shorter than he is, but the gun puts them on equal footing for sure.

"Who else did you tell?" she demands to know.

Aman lifts his hands a little higher. "I swear to god—"

"If you open your mouth again with an excuse rather than an answer, I swear…" Asi cuts him off with that counter, and trails off. The rise of the gun from his center mass to his head serves as the rest of the sentence. And he's seen what she can do with that gun.

It's with an eerie calm Aman realizes he's not going to be able to give her what she wants either way; a calm that's forced upon him. That certainty leads him to act. With a start of breath he drops into a squat and then launches himself at the Oni's midsection, arms reaching for her. He's fast about it, adrenaline pushing the limits of what he thought he was capable of while this exhausted.

For his efforts, he hears a bang that resonates through his skull— he receives a sting to the back of his head that sends his world black— into a sightless, soundless nothing. When he lands on the ground, the cellphone sandwiched between his body and the ground vibrates with a dull, deep insistence of someone attempting to call him.

Kicking away the arm that had tried and failed to close around her, Asi steps back from the prone courier, her jaw set, gun still in hand. It's grudgingly that she flicks the safety on, a dark look drawn across her face while she stands over him.

The only blood that comes from him is from the blow to the back of his skull, rather than the splatter of a bullet having pierced through it.

She comes around his side, using the toe of her boot to prop him up by his hip, and the flat of it to shove him over onto his back. The rough movement brings Aman's eyes to roll in his head, a thin groan coming from him. Before he has the chance to begin getting his wits about him, Asi pulls the phone from his front pocket in time for the first call to be ending, and for a second to already be hitting it— from the same number— in the time it takes her to rise and step back again. She swipes to decline it.

The head-ringing amounts of panic carve its way through Aman's skull, urging him to unwilling awareness. He groans, hand sliding on the floor. His emotional register is fuzzy, battered by the sentiment flowing his way unchecked while swimming in his own head. "Fuck…"

"Let's try this again," Asi sighs long, and the phone begins to ring in her offhand again. She ignores it, instead asking, "Who else did you tell?" When Aman shifts like he might begin to sit up, she lifts the gun again. He lets out a disgruntled note and lets his head hit the ground, staring up at the ceiling.

Aman takes in a breath to reply, hesitates, and grits his teeth as he sighs it out. "L…" he begins to say, but even then he can't bring himself to name anyone. He looks back over to the Oni plaintively, even as he fires off sharply, "Look, when I found out Redd made it out, I had to fucking ask for help."

"I didn't ask that," Asi replies calmly. "I asked who." Her grip around the gun shifts, and then she glance down to the buzzing phone. "Is it… 'O'?" she asks with forced lightness, lifting it up to display the incoming call screen. When he doesn't immediately answer, she points out, "Why else are they phoning you as though someone's life depends on it?"

Aman holds his tongue a moment longer, attempting to emulate and pulse out calm, but he only ends up making it down to rough impatience, attempting to shrug off concern being sent his way now that he's rousing. "That's Odessa," he snaps with that impatience, and Asi blanches in surprise from that. Of all the things she expected, for him to have kept in touch with her was…

"And who is L?" she asks without breaking metaphorical stride.

"God, fucking…" Helpless to do anything else, Aman brings his hands round to his face, scrubbing roughly. "Luther Bellamy, the guy who used to run security at—"

"Raytech." Confusion bleeds into Asi's voice, her arm slacking. It doesn't help Aman's anxieties any, mostly because his eyes are covered to miss that shift in her expression in the cascading illumination and shadow caused by the hallway light. She's doing some mental math, drawing lines of associations, and it takes the wind out of her sails some. After she fails to follow up that comment, he finally drops his hands from his face, looking up with slight apprehension… but also an understanding that the air's shifted.

"You're not gonna shoot me, are you?" he realizes more than asks.

Asi looks off, sighing hard. "No, but I have half a mind to run you bankrupt," she shares with annoyance in her voice, gun by her side now. "For someone supposedly afraid of Redd, you didn't go far. You only dropped off the radar a few months."

"This may come as a wild surprise to you," Aman replies with exceedingly dry bluntness, "But I'm not a fucking criminal mastermind, and I had my life to get back to. Kayl— someone who promised to help with any Redd issues asked me to come back." He begins to push himself up onto an elbow, reaching with his other hand to touch the back of his neck where skin broke from the force of the gun being whipped against his head.

She caught what he'd started to say, though, and it brings her to begin to frown slightly. These ties to Raytech weren't there when she'd run checks against him before the job. Had she missed something major? An under the table employment, perhaps? With a shake of her head, she asks more quietly, "Who else did you tell? There were at least three, then."

"I swear to god, nobody apart from that who wasn't already fucking involved," Aman promises, hesitant as he looks up. He doesn't even bother to check her math before making that promise, and she frowns for it.

But ultimately, what was she going to do? Murder a man in cold blood in his home? And Mazdak … they had to have known Suresh was still alive by now. The only thing else she had to be concerned about was the US government finding out about her involvement in that affair, and it's not like they'd come calling regarding that. So… if all that was the case…

Just what the hell was she doing here?

"Has anyone else from Mazdak approached you?" Asi asks, looking back down at him with a delicate sharpness.

"Nobody." Aman promises. "I've done a couple odd jobs lately, but none of them were terrorists, and none of them knew about PISEC or asked questions about it."

The phone begins to ring again, and this time, still looking down at him, Asi accepts the call and puts it up to her ear.

There’s only a sharp inhale on the other end of the line at first. Aman feels the probing question that’s delivered without words for Asi to hear. Like when he finally answered her call back in June. There’s too much uncertainty to give herself away. To give something away to whoever’s causing him to react that way.

A curl of regret meets Odessa's senses in reply. That, and contextless silence.

Odessa’s voice finally cuts through the silence like a particularly sharp knife. Cold as ice and strong as iron. “Who is this?”

"失礼が, Aman and I are talking at the moment, Odessa."

Asi quirks her brow, listening to the voice on the other end. It sounded different than she recalled, but the phone twisted voices, sometimes. Perhaps that's all it was.

"Can he call you back shortly or is this really that much of an emergency?"

Odessa’s voice pitches low when she replies, “鬼だな?” The voice may be slightly distorted on the line, but she remembers Asi’s too. “Put him on the line. Now.” She remembers what the oni did to her friend.

"Congratulations on your new freedom, by the way," Asi replies, voice at a polite deadpan. She looks down to Aman, who only understands the steel in Odessa's voice through the tenor of her emotions, rather than the words she's speaking. He remains where he is, save for having propped himself on an elbow.

Uncertain confusion begins to drip from him. He's got no idea what to expect from the interaction that's playing out, not given the tone and words Asi's using.

"I'll be done with him shortly."

She slides the phone from her ear, deadening the call with a press of her thumb.

Aman feels the spike of alarm and anger. Even he can hear the shouting through the phone as Asi takes it from her ear. “If you hurt him, you know what I’ll fu—”

And then nothing.

To say that, too was an unexpected turn of events here goes wildly understated. She looks down at the device ponderously, then shifts her gaze toward Aman, wondering just how things got this way. With a tilt of the phone outward, Asi narrows her eyes down at him. "You do know why she was in that facility, yes? She was convicted of every single crime against humanity except genocide. The crimes she committed against Expressives— they were not a one moment in time affair. That? It stretched years."

Aman bites his tongue, and Asi wills herself to do the same. Neither of them address the fact Odessa clearly had some kind of attachment to the courier, in spite of that.

"Why did you fraternize with her?" she wonders regardless.

"Why did you save her?" Aman counters warily.

"An acquaintance of mine would have been very sore over her passing," Asi answers, dry and not at all liking that the question has been turned back around on her. "So the opportunity was taken to make sure she got away safely, one way or another, from her situation." Satisfied she's said enough, her chin juts his way. "You didn't answer me."

There's no turnabout for that one Aman can argue back with, either. She's answered the question he posed, after all. He sets his teeth just so, breathing out while he considers his words. "The girl I got to know—" brings Asi to lift her head in a sort of recoil at that gross oversimplification of Odessa's identity, "and the one they vilify were two different people entirely. She atoned, she did her time, and she's got the chance to be better." Aman is adamant in that, unwavering in his conviction. "I saw her be better. I feel it; every single day."

Frowning, Asi notes, "That's not your ability." When he hesitates on a rebuttal, she lets out a soft huff of breath. "Neither is teleportation," she concedes after, and he looks even more awkward than before. Feels exposed. How did she…?

"I looked you up before I hired you, Amanvir. Your business is your own, but I saw many more 'negator' for hire ads by you than 'teleporter for hire' listings." After a short pause, she admits, "Truthfully, it's why I chose you."

It leaves him sitting in uneasy discomfort, feeling even more vulnerable than before. If she knew all that, what else did she know about him? Enough to know where he lived even now.

Odessa’s panic has ebbed slowly as Aman hasn’t spiked further himself. There’s a nudge of uncertainty. There’s still that undercurrent of fear, but he can tell she’s trying to control it. For his sake, more than her own. Please be okay, she begs with only a press of concern and hope.

"As curious as the discrepancy was, you didn't have the marks of someone peddling others for their abilities. No, you had something more unique to you yet."

The words have no clear purpose to Aman yet, so he absorbs them in silence, wondering where this is going. While they've gotten past the subject of killing him over his indiscretion, he imagines this must be leading somewhere.

He's not wrong.

"I'll overlook my unhappiness with you should you do me a favor." Asi offers out her free hand to him. "Try to take my ability." she asks of him, deadpan.

Abruptly feeling it's safe enough to sit up, Aman does so in order to have both hands free to assist him with boggling. What? This feels like a trick question. Definitely is, right? "Are you serious?" Rather than answer, she arches both eyebrows in reply at him. Letting out a quiet scoff of uncertainty, Aman struggles with the right course but relents with a shake of his head, "We're gonna have to be a lot closer than that, anyway."

He doesn't tell her he doesn't feel a telltale sign of her ability from her at this distance. He's never picked up a technopath's ability before. Maybe they put off a different feel.

Regardless, she slips the gun back into her belt, and offers her hand out to help him up. Despite the friendly gesture, she casts him a warning look to advise him not to take advantage of it. Even not knowing who she is, what her history is, he suspects she would soundly kick his ass or at least put up enough of a fight to get her gun again and shoot him for real this time… so he simply takes the offered hand and comes up to his feet.

Him holding on after is what takes Asi by surprise, but she says nothing as he looks down at their clasped hands, the cut on the back of his neck bleeding in a thin line down his skin. "It's…" Aman tries to find words for it, but none come. He looks up and makes it as far as a confused "You're—" before Asi forcefully draws her hand back to her.

"Thank you for the confirmation," she cuts in dryly, and he's too surprised to chase the topic or her hand, his own just hanging in the air now, grasping at nothing. Much like he had been when he was trying to reach for her ability— grasping at nothing despite feeling no indication he'd find something to take at all. Jesus, it felt just like when he'd tried to take Faulkner's ability.

Aman lets out a shudder of a breath, his hand closing one more time before it falls back to his side. "What is this, a fucking epidemic? A friend of mine had the same fucking thing happen t…" Something about that tie, that similarity, niggles at him and rekindles dread. He opens his mouth and closes it again with a thin press of a breath, one that brings the corner of Asi's mouth to twitch in the halflight cast from the hall.

"There was a single event. And perhaps your friend was caught up in it, too. Those thoughts, I'll leave with you to ponder." She tosses the phone onto the couch rather than hand it back directly, taking a step back. "If you could reassure Odessa I only mean to kill you should you tell anyone else about what happened on Plum Island, that would be appreciated. Otherwise, it's my hope I'll never have to come back to New York for you again."

"Wouldn't that be fucking nice," Aman can't help but mutter aloud. Asi lets out a stiff huff of a laugh under her breath at that.

"I'll be going before the police arrive, should she have called them. You should watch yourself with her, with the other company you keep." She pauses in the hall to look up at him meaningfully, as knowing as she is uncomfortable in that knowing. "These are strange times."

When she begins to move for the door, only belatedly does he follow after, hands lifted slightly from his sides. When she unbolts the door, he asks with the thickness of shock, "So that's it? You just… go now?"


Asi looks back at him after opening the door, still propping it open with her hand. "Are you prepared for the consequences of anything else?" she asks delicately. He has no answer for that, and it's now that she wears a thin press of a smile. "Good night, Amanvir."

After she pulls the door shut behind her, Aman deflates and runs a hand back through his hair. He steps to the window to peek out the blinds as a Mantis pulls up to his curb unattended, watches as she mounts it and takes off down the street in a rush of speed. With a bleary shake of his head, he looks down to his phone, wondering what he can even say.

He attempts to say nothing, but his emotions are too ill-at-ease still despite the encounter being over. A quick text strives to fill the gap, one that simply says: She's gone now.

A flood of relief that adds to his own. There’s a warmth to it. It has to suffice since she can’t be there to wrap her arms around him fiercely and hold her to him, as though that would ensure that he’s truly safe.

There’s otherwise no reply.

Aman rubs his face with both hands, aware of the drying blood on his neck when his head tilts forward and subtly disrupts it. The sensation brings him to mutter, one hand coming around to dab at the side of his neck, then the back of his head. With a hiss, he turns to head for the kitchen.

Maybe after some ice everything that just happened might make a bit more sense.

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