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Through Glass

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She stared through the glass at the highly polished hardwood floor below, the lighting soft, indirect and indistinct. Young and beautiful women and men moved within her view, their steps slow and measured. Watching them now, if Claire hadn't lived through it herself, she wouldn't have believed the horror and chaos that had been the view from this same window a few short months ago. For just a moment her eyes focused on her own reflection before her gaze slid away, as it always did, back to the pavane that played out below.

A flash of bright color caught Claire's gaze as Echo stepped with a dancer's grace from the doorway that led up from the pool, a towel in her hands. Her head tilted to one side, she squeezed water from her hair. She approached Sierra and Victor, who shared both a table and their morning meal, smiling at each other. Neither spoke, but they both appeared content. When Echo reached them, Sierra slid her chair closer to Victor and gestured for Echo to join them.

"They look like they're back to normal, whatever normal is around here."

Claire jumped and nearly dropped her clipboard. The pen she'd held flew from her fingers, bounced off the glass and clattered to the floor. She bent to retrieve it, but he was faster. "I didn't realize you were here, Mr. Langton."

He stood and turned toward her, his expression changing from neutral with friendly overtones to pure skepticism in less than a second as he handed her the pen. She couldn't blame him for that; had she been less focused on the three Actives (she refused to think of them as Dolls), she would have seen his reflection as he entered her office.

He took a step toward the window and stopped beside her, watching the activity through the glass for a moment. With a glance down at Claire, he observed mildly, "Your experiment seems to have worked."

Claire frowned, watched Echo smile sweetly at something Victor said. There was an innocence about Victor, about Sierra, but something about Echo remained… different. It wasn't anything that Claire could quantify, and that was part of the problem. Sierra and Victor had obtained the resolution, the closure to things they didn't even remember were wrong and that resolution had eased the glitching both had experienced. November had recovered enough that Claire had, however reluctantly, approved her return to duty and was even now being prepped to return to her long-term engagement. But Echo…

As though she knew what Claire was thinking, Echo looked up at the window and smiled the same sweet smile she had given Victor and Sierra. The scars on Claire's face tingled, began to itch. With a little shake of her head, she said, "That remains to be seen, Mr. Langton."

Still smiling, Echo looked back down at the table. She began to trace a pattern on its smooth surface with her fingertip. From the vantage of her office window, Claire couldn't tell what it was, but she couldn't suppress a shiver.