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Push Back

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There's one thing pushers don't tell. Maybe some watchers know, but maybe none of them have figured it out. It's not like watchers look for it. They see each other all the time; no blind spots in seeing another watcher's future. Pushers' minds work differently. It's not possible to put thoughts into the mind of a more powerful pusher. I only know because they've tried. All the Division pushers have, at one point or another. If they want you working for them willingly, they make it happen. Except for me. I push back.

We're supposed to meet away from Hong Kong. Nick bought us all tickets to Nagasaki with Cassie's money, where Division can't get to us without ten layers of bureaucracy. There aren't many places watchers can't track, but Nagasaki makes it harder. The bombs going off all at once, Cassie said. Something about that many futures being changed all at once when the atomic bomb went off ended up choking the air.

Pinky and Hook got off the train in Tokyo and are living it up at the nightclubs. She can't blame them. No one wants to go up against Division, especially not the people who used to work for them. Emily Hu is there. She looks impatient, though she smiles when she sees me. "About time someone got here," she says, and she doesn't pull back - not much - when I hug her. Her hands are covered in black leather gloves, she has a scarf wrapped around her neck, and long sleeves so she doesn't brush up against a wall by accident.

"Cassie and Nick were supposed to be here an hour ago," says Emily. She glances at the train, parked in the station for the next hour. "I saw them get off at the last station. Something happened."

I nod. Something like that was bound to happen sooner or later. Cassie's sight is clear, but her vision's not perfect. No watcher's is, not even her mother's. "Can you help me find them?"

Emily is exasperated, but she laughs like she expected this. "I told them I never wanted to be involved in this," she says.

"It's too late for that," I say. I smile. I like having a reason to spend time with Emily. "We're all involved, at least until Division is done for."

"Could be worse," says Emily. You don't have to be a watcher to realize what she's thinking. "You could think you work for them. You ready to go?"

***

It's six months later and we're no closer to Cassie and Nick than we were before. That's when they find us, wearing black suits and patent leather shoes. Cassie's hair is tied back and Nick's is short. They flash Division badges at Emily, who raises her eyebrows and gives them disapproving looks. "Is this some kind of plan, or do you really think you work for Division?" she asks.

"We've always worked for Division," says Nick. There's no hint of the man you knew. Know. He's in there somewhere. You need to find him.

"We've been assigned to find you and bring you in," says Cassie, and she lifts her chin and sounds as determined as she always has. "This can go easy or it can go hard. You know that."

"I know the two of you would rather die than work for Division willingly," says Emily. She strips off one glove and holds her hand out to Cassie. "You're the watcher. Watch what I get from contact with you."

"She doesn't need you trying to confuse her," says Nick, stepping forward and in front of Cassie.

"Division's up to their old tricks again," I say, shaking my head. "Do you remember when they made me believe I had been an agent? Made me think I had volunteered to be a human guinea pig? I told you, Nick. You don't like what they're doing? Push back!"

"Is that even possible?" asks Emily. She's alarmed, intrigued. Excited. A mind strong enough to hold against a pusher, Division thinks that's a myth, but every psychic working there thinks they're going to be the first. They're going to have proof and get, I don't know, the Agent of the Year award.

"It's rare," I tell Emily. "It's possible, but it's rare."

If the two of us can reach either of them, it's going to be Cassie. Watchers see the truth easier than movers do.

Cassie shoves past Nick, goes in front of him. "I don't believe you," she says, still confrontational, even as she reaches out and grabs Emily's hand. "All I'm gonna see is you checking out what I had for lunch. You know it and I know it."

"Then why are you looking?" I ask, and my voice is soft, but Nick hears me. He moves his hand, just a twitch, and I feel my eyes go black as I reach into his mind and push, hard enough to stop him from throwing us across the room, but not enough to make him my puppet.

"She's right," says Cassie. Her hands are covering her eyes and she's stumbling back, falling against the wall. "She's right. I saw us with them six months ago. We were fighting Division, Nick."

"They told us these two would try something like that," says Nick. He's angry, with me, with Cassie. With Emily too, maybe, but she isn't the one keeping him from using his abilities. "They told us not to believe them."

"I didn't believe them when they just said something, but I saw it, you idiot!" snaps Cassie. She turns to me. "Can you un-push us? Undo whatever it is they did to make us believe this?"

"Maybe," I say. I reach into my purse, pull out the picture of Nick and I at Coney Island. I hold it up and Nick's handwriting is on it. "This is why I killed Carver. I trusted you when Division pushed lies into my mind. Trust me, Nick."

He glances at Cassie, who nods. "She's telling the truth. God, I hate Division."

Nick stares at me next, trying to decide what story he wants to believe. Emily gives me an uncertain, almost scared look and I smile at her. "We can do this," I say, but my voice comes out as a hoarse whisper. I grab Emily's gloved hand and she squeezes it, reassuring me as much as I've just reassured her.

"We can take Division down," I say, then I clear my throat and try it again. "We can take Division down. The four of us together. That's the plan, isn't it?"

"That's the plan," says Cassie. "Nick, it's the plan. Are you in?"

After a long pause, one where all of us wonder which truth he's going to believe, he speaks. "Yeah," he says, like the words are being dragged out of him. "That's the plan."