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Super Secret U.S. Military Compound - present day

 

For as long as he can remember, he's been getting little hunches about the way the universe worked. He's not psychic, so he doesn't know what's going to happen before it happens, he just... intuits it. Which means that although the universe often surprises him, in hindsight he can piece together the interconnectedness that gets him from point A to point B.

He can be forgiven, then, for not seeing this coming. What he can't forgive is his utter inability to piece together how he got here. Then again, the complexities of cause and effect often defy analysis.

Or possibly that's just Todd.

Granted, he's never had a friend before, the concept entirely new, so it is possible this is how friendship works. The traitorous elevation in his pulse. The persistent fluttering in his stomach. These could be friendship feelings! In which case, Todd is probably experiencing something similar, this a physical manifestation of the joy that comes with seeing a long absent friend.

Oh, who is he kidding. He's been half in love since the Perriman Grand. And that was before they'd properly met, so...

"Are you even listening to me?" Todd is saying, which, yes, there is something decidedly important going on, so now is probably not the time to reflect on his potential--probable--feelings for Todd.

"Hmm?" Dirk asks, cocking his head to one side and adopting his best I'm listening expression. Instead of showing appreciation for it, Todd stares at him like he's grown two heads.

"We have to go, now," he says, somewhat purposefully, like he's speaking to a small child, like...

And oh, right.

"How did you find me?" Dirk asks, rising from his cot. It seems a rather pressing question. Certainly it's better than asking how Todd got the door to his room open. Dirk's been throwing himself against it for days to no avail.

Instead of answering, Todd shoots him a glare. Only then does Dirk notice the semi-automatic rifle in his hands, the last pieces of the puzzle falling into place.

"Oh! I get it," Dirk says, because he does--he is clever like that. "This is a rescue!"

Which would make Todd his knight in shining armour, Dirk's impending freedom now an epic ballad, complete with valiant acts of heroism and, dare he say it, romance.

Definitely not feelings of friendship then.

~*~

 

Interstate 5, outside Toledo - 1 week prior

 

"You know, this ain't all bad," she says, gesturing vaguely with her hand. Ken, who's only just managed to stop shaking, extracts himself from the car and surveys the carnage. He stops counting when he reaches eighteen.

"How's that?" he asks, because killing bad guys is one thing. Killing naive soldiers who were probably just following orders...

"They ain't dead," Bart tells him, like she can read his mind. Actually, maybe she can. She can dodge bullets, after all. Mind reading can't be that far off.

"What?" he still asks.

"They ain't dead," she tells him again. "The tank. They got these stun blast things. Something they came up with to stop people like me." She shrugs.

"So..." Ken releases a breath. His lungs no longer feel quite so tight. He tries again. "So when you plugged the tank with that rock..."

"Fired the wave back at them instead of at us. They'll be out a couple hours, maybe."

Ken considers. He's pretty sure he's still missing something. That something possibly being the part where the U.S. Military is now apparently hunting them. Or her. Or maybe them. He honestly doesn't know.

"So why exactly isn't this bad?" he asks.

"Well," Bart says, glancing around. "We got a tank now, don't we?"

And yeah, okay, he can see how maybe that's the part that matters... Actually no, scratch that, he can't.

"We can't take the tank," he tells her, because they can't. They really, really can't.

"Why not?" Bart asks. She looks, he thinks, incredibly disappointed. Ken scrambles for a good excuse.

"It's too slow. And we probably ought to get as far from here as we can, as fast as we can."

He's expecting an argument, protest from her part, probably a spiel about how the universe gives her what she needs. He's more than a little shocked when she simply nods.

"If they're tryin' to bring us in, they're gonna want all of us. We should find Dirk Gently," she says, like going back the way they've come is somehow a reasonable solution. He very carefully doesn't ask who they are or why they might want to bring her in. Besides, it's not like he can't guess.

"Okay," he says, taking a leap of faith, because Dirk Gently's where this all started, so maybe Dirk Gently's where this needs to end.

"Okay," he says again, this time more for himself. Bart nods, like the universe has just charted their path.

Too late, Ken realizes, it probably has.

~*~

 

Todd's Apartment, Seattle - 1 week prior

 

"I told you, I'm fine. It was nothing. Did you see where he went? Did someone take him? Did Blackwing take him?"

Todd's well aware he's fast approaching hysteria. It's a comfortable state for him, sheer, blinding panic far preferable to the agony of burning from the inside. Of all the hallucinations to start with, of course it had to be electricity. His life wouldn't make sense otherwise.

"Todd," Farah says, patient like he knows she's not. "I found you curled up in the hall outside the bathroom screaming. You're not fine."

Todd waves her aside. Either it's Pararibulitus--which, to be honest, he probably deserves at this point--or it's not. Either way, talking about it isn't exactly going to help them find Dirk. Or Amanda for that matter.

Speaking of...

"Try her again," he says, gesturing to the pocket where he knows Farah keeps her phone.

Farah shakes her head, but she pulls out her phone and places the call. Together they wait an agonisingly long minute. Amanda doesn't answer.

Even expecting it, the lack of response hitches his panic up a notch, Todd's heart now racing in his chest. At this rate he's going to have a heart attack, possibly even a real one. It leaves him feeling decidedly faint. That and like he might vomit all over Farah's shoes.

Of course, none of this escapes Farah's attention. She's hovering, looking both oddly uncertain and surprisingly concerned. Any other circumstance and he'd probably appreciate it, but right now he's got his sister--and Dirk, can't forget Dirk--to worry about, so...

Besides, he's pretty sure he only wants something to happen with her because he's supposed to want something with her to happen, which, Dirk's protests aside, reconfirms the whole asshole thing.

"Look," Farah says, Todd giving her his undivided attention. He could do with a dose of her pragmatism. "Do you know where she was heading when she called? If we start there, maybe we can trace..."

It's as far as she gets before the door to his apartment slams open--not hard given that the lock's still broken--Amanda bursting into the room. One of the Rowdies is fast on her heels.

Screw vomiting, he's definitely going to faint.

"Todd, are you okay?" Amanda asks the second she spots him. Given that their last conversation ended in screams of agony and the complete destruction of his phone, he can't say he blames her.

Still, it's nice to know she still cares.

"I'm fine," he says. "What about you? What happened?"

She starts talking all at once then, the way that she does sometimes--the way Dirk does when he's caught in the middle of a case, and is it really any wonder Amanda likes him? Todd has to get her to repeat everything twice before he can piece together her narrative.

Someone came for the Rowdy 3. She and Vogle ran.

"Blackwing?" he asks, this time catching Vogle's eye. He's not sure he's ever seen a grown man so thoroughly terrified. His stomach sinks.

"I think they took Dirk, too," he says, surprised by how much the thought of Dirk in their hands scares him. Surprised by how much he cares.

It's been a long time since he had anything approximating a friend.

"We gotta get them back," Amanda says. Vogle nods his agreement.

They're both staring at Todd, like he's the de facto decision maker in their haphazardly assembled group. As much as he appreciates the blind trust--especially given that yesterday Amanda wasn't speaking to him--there's still the part where Blackwing, at least as far as Dirk's told him, is a super-secret U.S. military operation, and there are only four of them. Even if they could find where Blackwing was holding Dirk and the other Rowdies, they'd still have to break them out of what is undoubtedly a secure government facility.

As much as he wants--maybe even needs--Dirk back, they're not exactly good odds.

He means to tell them as much, to break it to them gently, but apparently the universe has other plans, because no sooner does he open his mouth then the door to his apartment, the one still ajar from when Amanda and Vogle came in, flies open a second time.

He's half expecting Dirk--because it would be like Dirk to show up just when they were getting ready to go rescue him. Instead he finds himself staring at the girl from Patrick Spring's basement; the one who stuck a gun in Dirk's face. The one who took out two of the Men of the Machine without so much as flinching. On the list of strangest people he's met since he met Dirk, she's somewhere near the top. She's also just as terrifying as she was the first time, even without a gun.

Farah tenses at his side.

"You're Dirk's friend," the girl says, blunt and to the point. Todd exchanges a glance with the man trailing in her shadow. He offers a brief nod.

"Do you know where Dirk is?" he asks, the words coming out far more desperate than he intended. The girl doesn't seem to notice.

"He's not here?" she asks. She sounds genuinely surprised. Todd glances again to her companion. This time the man offers him a shrug.

"They must've taken him," the girl continues. She's not looking at Todd. She's not looking at anyone, really. If he had to guess, he'd say she was thinking aloud. Todd still has to ask.

"They? Do you mean Blackwing?"

That gets her attention, the girl glancing up sharply to meet Todd's eye. Something in her gaze is oddly familiar. It takes him a few minutes to figure out why. They look nothing alike, and yet there's something decidedly Dirk-like about her gaze. Todd exhales sharply.

"He told you 'bout them?" she asks. Todd offers a brief nod. The girl lets out a little huff of surprise. She glances once to her companion. Again he shrugs.

There's a decided lack of momentum to their conversation, Todd more confused now than he was before everyone arrived. Apparently Amanda feels the same, because she steps forward, brushing aside Farah's concern when Farah moves to intervene. Todd's not sure he wants to know.

"We're going to find him," Amanda says. "Him and the Rowdies."

She sounds so utterly certain that Todd can't bring himself to burst her bubble. Instead he bites his tongue, glancing from the girl to Amanda and then back again. The girl--and Todd still doesn't know her name--seems to be contemplating Amanda's words. Eventually she nods.

"Yeah, okay," she says. "We can do that."

~*~

 

Todd's Apartment, Seattle - 1 week prior, less an hour

 

The universe, Todd decides, is a strange place.

Stranger still are the people in it. He's still not entirely sure who these people are, though at least now he knows their names. The girl--Bart, apparently--doesn't say much. She's curled up on the edge of Todd's couch, Ken beside her, the two of them looking about as out of place as Todd currently feels.

"Can I remind everyone that we don't actually know where Dirk and the others are?" Todd feels the need to say. It's not the first time. In fact, he's starting to feel a little like he's talking to a brick wall. No one is even remotely interested in listening to reason.

"I can find em," the girl says. It's the first time she's spoken since their exchange by the door. Every head in the room swivels in her direction. The girl shrugs.

"You know where they are?" Amanda asks. She's far too excited for the situation.

"Don't matter. The universe will take me where I need to be," Bart says, which is helpful, really helpful. At this point, Todd would almost prefer a Pararibulitis attack.

"I hate to keep doing this, but can I also remind everyone that we're talking the six of us versus the U.S. military?"

Todd's honestly a little surprised that he needs to point this out.

"Told you we shoulda taken the tank," Bart says from her place on the couch. Todd very intentionally doesn't ask. Instead he turns his attention to Amanda, her entire body trembling with unused energy.

"Come on," she says. "We already took on all those cops. You saved that girl. I mean, how many impossible things have we done already? What's one more?"

Farah, who's been strangely quiet since the arrival of their company, clears her throat. Todd shoots her a look of gratitude. The look she returns is vaguely apologetic.

"I can get us some guns," she says, the traitor.

They're all in agreement, he realizes. Amanda. Vogle. Farah. Bart and Ken. It leaves him the odd man out, Todd torn between the lunacy of what they're suggesting and his desire to help Dirk.

And that's really what this is about, he realizes. No matter how crazy. No matter their chances. This is about helping a friend, something he hasn't had in longer than he can remember. It's about helping someone he's starting to realize he genuinely cares about. Someone he doesn't want to lose.

Reluctantly, Todd offers a brief nod. It earns him celebratory whoops from Vogle and Amanda, while Farah merely offers him a smile. Bart and Ken exchange giddy glances.

Whatever he's signed himself up for, Todd's fairly certain it's going to end in disaster. Then again, it's not like his life isn't already a disaster, so what the hell. He's in.

~*~

 

Super Secret U.S. Military Compound - present day, again

 

"Can you stop talking."

Todd, Dirk decides, can't possibly mean that in the literal sense. After all, the message Dirk's trying to convey is somewhat important.

"I'm simply pointing out the obvious," he says.

They're still inside the compound, a dank, concrete bunker that Dirk suspects is probably somewhere underground. Amanda, Farah, and one of the Rowdies have gone looking for the others, while Bart--the girl who tried to kill him, twice--and Ken--whom he can only assume is her Todd stand-in--scout the corridor ahead.

"I get it, okay. But until we get you out of here we're not going to worry about that," Todd tells him. He really is quite dashing like this. Brave, too. Dirk tells him as much.

It earns him one of Todd's better faces, one that's half disbelief, half confusion. He stares at Dirk for a long, endless second before shaking his head.

"It's not getting out that I'm worried about," Dirk says. He's got a good feeling about that. Also, if the six of them, armed with what remained of Farah's stockpile, can walk into a military facility without drawing attention, it stands to reason they can get back out again.

The here and now isn't the problem. It's what comes later.

"I think we should worry about it," Dirk continues. "Because if they find me again, they're going to kill you."

And that's the crux of it, isn't it? Because he'd rather spend the remainder of his days locked in here than see Todd harmed. Especially given his most recent revelation.

"So, we'll leave the country," Todd says, like it's a perfectly reasonable suggestion.

Dirk knows it isn't. He knows, too, that it's an off-the-cuff remark, Todd not paying attention to what he's saying, all of his energy focused on navigating the endless maze of corridors before them. So he doesn't mean it--can't possibly mean it--and yet there's that treacherous pulse again, Dirk touched beyond measure to know Todd might consider it.

"Impractical," he still says. "Even if we could clear customs."

It's as far as he gets before Todd's shushing him, a finger raised in warning. Dirk mimes zipping his lip, and then cocks his head to listen because, yes, he hears it too, the rampant destruction of private property that can only come at the hands of the Rowdy 3. Todd shoots him a triumphant grin. Together they start towards the noise.

The Rowdy 3, all four--no, five of them--are making enough noise to attract an entire battalion, and yet still no one has come. Not that Todd seems to notice, his posture still impossibly tense, the weapon in his hand shaking somewhat uncontrollably. Dirk makes a mental note to point this out to Farah. It's entirely possible Todd shouldn't have been given a gun.

"I just don't like the idea of you putting yourself in danger on my account," Dirk says as they round the next corner. Up ahead the Rowdy 3 are using broken-off chair legs to smash the walls of their rooms. They're not getting very far, but at least the sight of them, Amanda in their midst, releases some of Todd's tension.

The wing that houses the Rowdies' rooms is an exact copy of the wing that housed Dirk's. The compound, Dirk suspects, is shaped like an octagon, each wing identical to the last. It's nothing like the facility he spent his childhood in, this somehow worse, the weight of the earth above them oppressive. For as much as Dirk wants Todd safe, he also really, really wants to leave.

"Look, we'll figure it out, okay. And if we have to, we'll go into hiding," Todd says. He pauses then, staying still long enough for Dirk to catch his eye. It's the longest they've maintained eye contact since Todd first appeared inside his room.

"You'd really do that for me?" Dirk asks, teetering on the verge of tears. He's never had a friend before, let alone someone who would sacrifice their life to ensure his safety. If he wasn't already head over heels, this would have done it.

"What? No. Yes. I don't know. Look, can we just focus on the task at hand?"

They've caught up with the others now, Todd briefly embracing Amanda while the other Rowdies finish destroying their rooms. Bart and Ken have disappeared, but a quick sweep of the area finds them seated on one of the cots in an unused room. Farah crosses the room to meet them.

"This is weird, right?" she asks, gesturing around them.

"Tell me about it," Todd says, releasing Amanda. Something niggles the back of Dirk's mind.

They're missing something. Something big, the interconnectedness of the universe offering him a glimpse. Without moving from his spot, he spins a slow circle, taking in the empty corridors; the cameras mounted on the ceiling.

"I don't think there's anyone here," he says.

He knows that hasn't always been true. Certainly someone brought them here. Certainly he's been offered food and water. He was interrogated at one point, though unlike the gruelling sessions he remembers from his youth, these were mostly Q&As, the worst part of the encounter the monotonous tone of the clerk reading from a clipboard.

"Bart said the same thing when we arrived," Farah says. "The whole area was deserted. They'd even left the gates up."

"The front door was unlocked," Todd provides. Dirk glances between them.

"What can it possibly mean?"

"It means you're free to go," a voice echoes from down the corridor.

They turn in unison, even the Rowdies, who, having finished with the destruction of their cells, were looking for something else to destroy. Dirk swallows. Todd maneuvers himself so that he's standing directly between Dirk and Col. Riggins. Both he and Farah have their weapons raised. Todd is once again shaking, this time somewhat uncontrollably.

Bart, he's pleased to note, wasn't given a weapon, though he suspects she doesn't need one. She and Ken have emerged from a cell and are now standing alongside the Rowdies, each of them still brandishing a chair leg.

It's the ten of them against Col. Riggins, who is, or so it would appear, alone.

"What do you want?" Dirk asks, his voice carrying. The corridor's echo amplifies its waver.

"I don't want anything, Dirk," Col. Riggins says, Dirk momentarily startled by the use of his preferred name. He swallows. Todd's shaking increases.

"This was all a mistake," Col. Riggins continues. "The wrong people got involved, but I promise you, I've taken care of it. You're all free to go. No one will look for you again."

There's something in the way that he says it that raises the hairs on the back of Dirk's neck.

It's also about as solemn a promise as Col. Riggins has ever made, though Dirk learned a long time ago not to trust anything the man said. The Rowdies, if their growling is any indication, agree.

"Why did you take us in the first place?" Dirk asks, the same question he's asked almost hourly since arriving. This is the first time someone's been around to answer.

Before him, Todd is practically vibrating, his weapon no longer aimed at anything in particular. Dirk's honestly surprised he hasn't dropped it. Worry replaces his earlier concern.

"I didn't," Col. Riggins says. "I told you, the wrong people got involved."

He's still talking, but Dirk's long since stopped listening, all of his attention now directed at Todd. This isn't fear. It's certainly not anxiety. This is something bigger. Something he's missed. Ignoring Col. Riggins--and everyone else for that matter--Dirk gestures to Farah, who takes one look at Todd and then swiftly disarms him. The second the gun is gone, Dirk has him by the shoulders. Todd's teeth are chattering noisily, his head listing to one side.

"Todd?" he says, now decidedly alarmed. Todd doesn't answer. As soon as Farah took the gun he wrapped his arms around his waist, so now he's huddled in upon himself, shivering, his teeth still chattering.

"It could be some kind of seizure," Farah says at about the same time as Amanda screams his name. Dirk glances up to meet her eye. She knows, he realizes. Or at least she suspects. Without thinking it through, he gestures for the Rowdies.

They don't need to be told what to do. They've seen this enough with Amanda to know the drill. Dirk ushers Farah and Amanda back as the Rowdies gather around Todd, draining whatever energy is causing the hallucination. By the time they're finished, Col. Riggins is gone. So, too, are Bart and Ken. Dirk can't find it in him to care.

What he does care about is Todd, who seems oddly startled by the sudden attention, that and confused, his brow furrowed as he takes in multiple sets of concerned eyes.

"What...?" he gets out, though only barely.

"You asshole," Amanda says. "You told me you were faking it. You told me..."

She doesn't get the rest out, a violent sob replacing her words. Tears spring to her eyes, several of them falling to trace wet tracks down her cheeks.

"This is new," Dirk says, making the connection. "You didn't have it before, but you have it now."

Todd, who looks both thoroughly exhausted and wholly humiliated, ducks his head.

"It happened just after they took you. In the diner. I found him on the floor outside the bathroom. He said he was being electrocuted," Farah says.

Dirk nods. It all makes perfect sense.

"Extreme stress. It's a trigger. I'm surprised you didn't have an attack during the Patrick Spring case."

This is neither, he realizes, the time nor the place. They're still standing outside the Rowdies now trashed cellblock, and Todd looks utterly exhausted. Nodding to himself, Dirk makes a decision.

"We'll sort this out later. For now I'd suggest we get out of here, before Col. Riggins changes his mind."

The reminder alone is enough to start everyone moving, despite Amanda's clear objections, and Farah's obvious concern. Without thinking, he takes Todd by the elbow and steers him towards where he has a hunch there's an exit. Amanda and the Rowdies follow behind, Farah taking up their rear.

~*~

 

Middle of nowhere, USA - 1 week later

 

"Still don't know what the point of all that was," Bart says. "I mean, they coulda found him on their own, you know?"

"Maybe," Ken tells her, unconvinced. He braces as Bart takes the interchange a little too fast. Ahead there's a gas station. The fuel gauge reads half full.

"But if the universe ain't sending me where I'm needed, then what's the point?" Bart continues. She really doesn't like it when she floats offstream.

"I guess," Ken says. "But maybe the universe just needed you to know that no one was going to come looking for you. Maybe the universe wants you out there, doing your thing, without having to worry about watching your back."

Bart pulls to a stop in front of the gas station. She glances over long enough to catch his eye.

"Yeah, maybe," she says before stepping out of the car, the weapon she stole from Col. Riggins--alongside his car--raised before her second foot hits the ground. She points it at the station door, Ken watching the stream of creation flow throw her as her bullets fly loose. They find their mark in the forehead of a man scrambling to escape the shouts of the station attendant, the plastic bag of loose cash he was carrying falling to the ground.

~*~

 

Rowdy 3 Van, Seattle - 1 week later

 

"Are you sure about this?" Amanda asks. The Rowdy 3--all four of them--look at her like she's crazy. Amanda rolls her eyes.

"Because it's not exactly like you to stay in one place, and I'll understand--Todd will understand--if you need to go, hit the road or whatever it is you guys normally do."

It's Martin who rises from his chair, a discarded bus bench they found rusting in a field outside Redmond.

"Girlie, we ain't ditching you," he says. "You're one of us now, and we look after our own, and in this case our own extends to that brother of yours, and his delicious, delicious psychic."

Vogle, Cross and Gripps drum their agreement, the three of them howling like a pack of hyenas. Amanda offers them a bright smile before turning her attention back to Martin.

"You know," she tells him. "At first I thought you guys were just a bunch of weirdos."

"And now?" Martin asks. There's laughter in his eyes.

"Now?" she says. "Now I know you're a bunch of weirdos, but you're my weirdos, so it's cool."

That earns her one of Martin's brighter smile, that and an extended hand. Amanda accepts it, letting Martin lead her in a music-less waltz.

~*~

 

Todd's Apartment, Seattle - 1 week later

 

"Well, I for one am glad you're both alright," Farah says.

It's the third time she's checked in this week, and Todd for one is grateful for it. He hasn't had another attack since they found Dirk, but he still worries about it, even knowing the Rowdies are only ten minutes down the road.

"And I'm sure that has nothing to do with wanting to ensure a return on your investment," Dirk says, though Todd can tell he's kidding.

"There is also that," Farah says, the pair of them exchanging wide smiles. Todd stares between them, unable to suppress a grin.

It lingers long after she's left: long after they've finished hauling Dirk's things down into Todd's half-repaired apartment. If they're going to do this, they're going to do this right.

"So now what?" Todd asks. He's not exactly looking for more adventure--hell, he still feels like he could sleep for a week--but adventure, he's discovered, has a way of finding them, so it's better, he figures, to be prepared.

"I'm not sure," Dirk admits. It's the first time they've been alone since all of this started, Todd surprised by the well of emotion pooling in his chest. He's not entirely sure where to begin. Dirk saves him the trouble.

"That's twice now," he says, though Todd has no idea what he's talking about.

He's still smiling, though, staring at Todd like... Well, like maybe Todd isn't an asshole after all.

"You gonna elaborate on that?" Todd asks. Dirk's smile grows fond.

"That you've saved my life, duh," he says.

Todd wants to protest--means to protest--but Dirk's still looking at him, warmth spreading into Todd's limbs. For half a second he thinks it's the Pararibulitis, Todd afraid he's going to glance down and find himself engulfed in flames. But it's only growing affection, the feeling as unfamiliar as it is nice.

"Well, you know, I've kind of gotten used to having you around, so..." Todd says, aiming for levity and failing spectacularly. Dirk's expression grows serious.

They haven't, in the grand scheme of things, known each other long, and yet for reasons Todd can't explain, he feels like he's known Dirk his entire life. It's not just familiarity, the connection deeper than that. Todd has no idea what the future will hold, but he's fairly certain it will involve Dirk. Watching Dirk gather his thoughts, Todd finds himself hopeful for the first time in possibly forever.

"Everything okay?" he asks when Dirk doesn't say anything. Dirk offers a brief nod.

"It's just... I don't want to lie to you ever again, so I think there's something you should know," he says. Todd arches an eyebrow.

He knows it can't be bad--not like it was last time, and in hindsight Dirk was right--Todd understands exactly why Dirk didn't tell him. That doesn't stop his stomach from twisting into nervous knots. Dirk releases a shaky breath, and then meets his eye.

"There's a very good chance," he says, pausing to clear his throat, "that I am going to fall utterly and unequivocally in love with you. It is entirely possible I've done so already."

It takes Todd several seconds to process that, all while Dirk shifts nervously from foot to foot, his gaze locked on the ground. It takes another few seconds to realize he doesn't actually mind. That he might actually be okay with that scenario. Dirk glances up sharply when he says as much, incredulity eventually replaced by the biggest smile Todd has ever seen. Todd does his best to return it.

It's very good, he thinks, to have Dirk home.

~*~

 

Random television screen, USA - 1 week later

 

"...Police are now saying the mass killing at a warehouse outside Ely, Nevada is now being attributed to an animal attack. The warehouse was originally identified as belonging to an unidentified branch of the U.S. Military, though the Armed Forces continues to deny any and all involvement. The animal, thought to have a bite roughly the size of a hammerhead shark, remains unidentified. Police are urging caution in the surrounding area."