Grand Tour, pt. 1

(Winters, Blitzen and GardensTale cross-post)

“Hey, I’m Sy. Sorry I spied on yo’ fellow Neo. It was a dumb an’ shitty thing to do.” The kid, who was about 15, with black hair and stern eyes, gave her a weird look, then turned and walked away. Sy sighed and craned her neck to look up at Romeo, who was directly behind her wheelchair. “86 apologies to go. Better roll on to the next one.” The wheelchair was, of course, not motorized in any way, merely fitted with handles for pushing on the back, and hoops on the wheels so Sy could push herself. They had only just left the med bay, with Sy apologizing to everyone she’d come across, though not all of them had turned out to be Neophytes. Piper had finally resigned to simply point out who was and wasn’t a Neo, as Sy seemed to be determined to tell every single one of them that she was sorry, despite every apology automatically spreading through the Spire like wildfire.

“I fail to see the point of this.” Romeo said finally. Sure he wasn’t a Neo and he wasn’t tuned in to the proverbial network but even he knew this was a colossal waste of time!

Really? Can you just make it stop? ** Is this necessary? ** No one wants to hear it **. Blue’s still in pain, can’t we focus on that? ** Center of attention, much? **Saying sorry doesn’t cut it. Neo chatter was coming in rapid fire from different directions.

If she was REALLY sorry she would do it like a real Neo. Then she might have a clue what kind of pain Blue was in. Magpie groused from somewhere in the Spire.

It was clear not everyone one in the Spire was on the same page in regards to the person most considered an interloper. Then again Magpie much like her namesake was territorial. The Spire for many was a Haven from a city that feared them. They were in a way of one mind in the Spire, so to some, it felt like a violation to have someone who could conveniently jump in and out of Neo’s thoughts and conversations.

ITrust me, Mags, you do not want that shit on inside the Spire. It’ll scratch at your brain. Full on artifacing. And it’s not like she’d feel it - about Blue I mean. No computer parts can make someone Neo. “They -- They got it, Sy. Everyone’s got it Just -- stop. Neo Etiquette.”

“You tell one Neo you might as well have told them all.” Romeo clarified in a flat tone.

“And it won’t take away what happened to Zu.” Piper said. “You mean well, but…” she shrugged, letting the statement hang.

"R-right. Be'er shut my trap." Sy felt a little taken aback, but she'd pretty much promised to follow along with any instructions from either Piper or Romeo. She pushed at her chair's wheels, but it was slow going. Still, she didn't want to be a burden, so she wasn't about to ask for anyone to push her.

Her train of thought started eating at her. You spy on the Neo and get one of 'em killed, you piss off a bunch of terrorists so they bail you out, you get yourself shot so they need to fix you up, face it you dumb nigga bitch, you already a burden, she told herself. And now you're even fucking up apologies. You're worthless. None of them want you to be here. Piper was humoring you, she hates you as much as the rest do. Just find an open window and roll off the edge alrea-

“Oh no.” Piper had stopped walking, and her eyes widened as she tilted her head. Her eyes darted back and forth for a brief second. “Blue,” she said worriedly before breaking into a flat out sprint down the hallway.

Piper rounded the corner and stopped just short of Blue, the two locking eyes. Piper’s were full of sympathy, Blue Jay’s full of anger and pain. In real time, their whole ‘conversation’ would have taken a split second, raw emotional data transferred from one Neo to the other.

Blue…

Out of the way, Piper.

I know how much you’re hurting --

Do you? Do you really? What if it was Romeo? What if it was his body that got brought back?

I don’t want to think about it being Romeo.

I don’t want it to have been Zulu. My Zulu. *My* Alpha! And the person that got him killed is here, in our home, alive and well. Sorry? What good is a word? I want him back!

I know. I wish it didn’t happen. I’d feel the same. Piper admitted. I would. And I’d die, like you are right now. But the New Way killed Zulu. The glitch.

Because SHE let him out! Piper -- Piper could feel Blue’s rage and nodded her head in understanding. She knew the punch was coming, but she also knew Romeo was right behind her, and he gently diverted Blue Jay’s attack, stepping in between the two Neo.

“This is on you!” Blue spat towards the girl in the wheelchair, the girl who was living and breathing, and not lying in a box waiting to be burned until nothing was left but carbon fiber bones. Romeo shifted to one side to prevent Blue from getting past him. “I hate you!” She continued her assail, pointing towards Sy. “You and everyone like you, and your apology doesn’t mean shit!” She shoved her hands against Romeo’s chest with an outcry of frustration. “WHY?” she continued, yelling as she struck her fists against his torso. “It could have been you! It could have been Lima, or Foxtrot, or anyone else! Why my Zulu?” Romeo remained with his hands at his sides, coolheaded as his nickname as he let Blue vent her misery. By then several more Neo appeared silently in the hallway, Magpie put her hand on Piper’s shoulder and more and more Neo joined the circle. Each closed their eyes, until the last one placed his hand on Blue. The grief stricken Neo gasped but was mollified, her anger turning to sobs as she was embraced by the others.

"Romeo," Sy said quietly, her voice nonetheless carrying above the sound of Blue's sobs. "Let her through." She wished they hadn't taken away the woman's anger. She was entitled to that anger, she had reason. But as Blue approached Sy's chair, she could still see the spark of rage deep behind her eyes, which were still breaking into watery prisms as tears cascaded down her cheeks. Sy did not shy away, but met her eyes with fierce intensity. For a moment, the two women just stared, Blue looking down, Sy craning her neck up. Then Sy said, in a clear voice without her street accent: "You wanted to hit me. Hit me." She looked at Romeo for a moment and said: "Don't intervene. She needs this." She locked eyes with Blue again and waited for the blow.

Blue narrowed her eyes. “Why?” She snapped, her voice steely and cold. “So *you* can feel better?”

"Nothing will make me or you feel better about this," Sy replied calmly. "But you wanted to hit me, and I deserve that. And I know that until you do, you won't hear anything I have to say. So hit me."

Blue straightened her spine, shaking her head, her voice low and intense. “You don’t know what I want, you don’t know what I need, you don’t know anything! Nothing you can say is going to give me back my world.”

"No, it won't." Sy was unblinking. In the back of her head she thought: This would have been much easier if they'd let her punch me. "Nothin's gonna bring back what you lost. Nothin' to say that'll make things better. But you know I'm not the one that killed him. I triggered the trap, but I didn't set it. You know who did. Fuckin' Logos and his army of fucks did. An' you're right. I don' know what you want. Guess you don' wanna hit me after all! But I do know what Logos wants. He wants me!" Sy held up her hand and flicked Heimdall on for a fraction of a second, enough to send a pulse throughout the room, the Neo grimacing as if struck. "This is what Logos wants, and he'll rip it right outta me if he gets the chance! So if you wanna fuck up the guy that you should be the most angry at…" She slumped back down in the chair and threw up her hand. "I'm yo best bet."

Fuck, Piper swore as some of the Neo exchanged horrified glances. Damage control! She turned to Sy as some of the non-bonded Neo’s fears began buzzing in her head. “Only Blue won’t get that chance, because without an Alpha, there’s no leaving the Spire. And now, we’ve got panicky Neos thinking he’s going to come here for you.” Sy's face, dark as her skin was, drained of color.

“Alright folks. Enough for today … this isn’t a show or a Q n’ A.” Romeo said in cool even voice. “Maggie why don’t you take Blue somewhere nice? Rest of you. Back to your studies. Don’t make me get the Den Mother.” He threatened looking down at the small crowd.

Magpie put an arm around Blue steering the still grieving Neo away. Blue gave one last tearful glare to Sy before rounding the corner. The rest streamed away as ordered trying to return to their daily routine.

“Hopefully that fills the drama quota for the day.” Romeo groused crossing his arms. “Could have been worse. Could have been Blue that got killed … then you would've had an entire roving pack of Alphas on you.” Black humor was the Alpha’s go to. Piper responded simply with a look.

“What?” He said as Piper eyed him. “It’s true … how many Alphas you’ve seen survive the death of their Neo?” He pointed out. “So where next? Cafeteria?” Romeo asked the wheelchair bound anomaly.

Sy looked around in panic. "But… I didn' mean the New Way'd come 'ere! Piper, you gotta let 'em know!" She looked at her hands again. The adrenaline was wearing off, and her insecurities were returning. "I… I wanna help. I don' know if they'll let you, from up top I mean, but… If y'wanna trap other New Ways, maybe even Logos… Seems like they after me too, now, so I could be bait. Wouldn' that help?" She looked at Piper with a pleading look. "Ain't that some way I can make amends?" Piper didn’t respond, her blue eyes darting back and forth as she, Dove, Wren, the rest of the bonded silently tried to reassure the frightened, until Priya - the Den Mother intervened.

“Slow down there, you are jumping WAY ahead.” Romeo said turning to face Sy. “Look first things first, get healed up. Second, let me let you in on a non neo secret, the Spire is NOT like any other place you have been. It’s its own microcosm of culture and etiquette you're not going to pick up on overnight.” The Alpha assured the wheelbound hacker.

“So relax, watch and learn. When you can walk without wanting to die we’ll revisit how you can help and by proxy make amends.” The blonde Alpha told her. “Oh and tip number one if one neo knows they all know. That’s how it works in here, you even think it, they know it. There are no secrets in the Spire.”

Sy looked up at Romeo gratefully. "Thanks, big guy. Guess you're right… Can't do shit 'fore I heal up." A wet rumble emerged from her stomach and she grinned apologetically. "Guess the cafeteria'd be a good stop fo' now. I be'er stay outta the other Neo's hair, too. Fo' now anyway. Give 'em space an' all. 'Specially Blue." She turned her gaze to Piper. "If y'all hadn' calmed her down, I know she'd'a hit me." Her stomach gave another rumble.

“She would have tried but that's what me and Piper are here for. Keep you kicking.” Romeo reminded. “Need a push?” He asked. Like any self respecting Alpha it was totally a selfish maneuver to get hot lasagna from the cafeteria. Food was a great motivator for many of his kind.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Piper hid a smile, knowing full well Romeo’s altruism was tied to his stomach. And he called Puppies bottomless pits!

Sy bit her lower lip and looked at her lap for a moment. Her instinct was often to fight for her independence, the feeling of being a burden creeping in again. But maybe, for now, it was better to let that go. Besides, her chest was hurting again. "Yeah, big guy," she said. "Think I do need a push."

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