Her father is in prison. This is the one fact that Nadira can process; her father is in prison because he turned himself in after she had a crisis of conscience. She didn’t even up in prison, she’s still unclear on how. She has therapy instead. She’s learning about different ways the world around her works. It’s easier to hate than love. It’s easier to hate than forgive. There are still times when she thinks it would be easier to just take what she wants and destroy the people that vex her.
She doesn’t. She learns to reign in her temper, she learns to walk away or take a deep breath. She still imagines it in her head sometimes, but doesn’t act.
Working at a waitress at Jungle Karma Pizza is not helping her outlook on humanity. She still likes children though and she often finds herself sitting on a bench at the park watching them play to remind herself that not all humans are selfish, soul-crushing creatures.
Katie and Lucas sit down next to her after she’s had a particularly grueling day. Her gaze darts between them. “Did something happen to my father?”
“No,” Katie rushes to reassure, putting a hand on her shoulder. “We’re just checking up on you.”
Nadira’s shoulder’s slump. The prison has strict visiting hours and she can’t see him until tomorrow. Still, it’s better than having him cytogenetically frozen.
“I miss things about my old life,” she admits. “I even miss 2001.”
“I miss sugar,” Lucas says, giving her a smile.
“I miss the clock tower windows, they were great for sitting in,” Katie adds. “The balconies too.”
“Hair products.” Lucas nods. “The stuff I use here is good, but I think I got better results with the things there.”
“You over used on hair products,” Nadira teases.
“I didn’t,” Lucas protests.
“You still do,” Katie laughs.
Lucas starts to say something, but settles for giving them both a brief glare, before he nudges Nadira. “Your turn.”
Nadira blinks and sits back. “My turn?”
Nadira finds herself smiling for the first time all week. It’s feels like having two people who care and she misses having someone who cares about her. She considers the question briefly, there are a lot of things she misses about 2001.
“Bantering with Eric.”
“Eric?” Katie asks.
“I liked bantering with all of you too,” Nadira tells her in one quick breathe, before she takes her time explaining. “He’d get snarky and sarcastic. Then he’d just look so annoyed, like I’d just ruined his whole day and I should know better.”
Katie laughs. “Yeah, we miss Eric too.”
“And Wes,” Lucas adds.
“We weren’t adjusting back so well.” Katie admits.
“I’m not having my memory wiped.” Nadira shakes her head. “The past changed me and I’m not going back to who I was before that. I can’t.”
Her voice breaks on the last word and Katie wraps her arms around Nadira in a firm hug. Nadira reaches up to give Katie’s arm a squeeze as she leans in close to her.
Lucas takes Nadira’s free hand and gives it a squeeze as he reassures, “It was the same for us.”
“We’re not allowed to go back to 2001, they think we’ll stay,” Katie explains. “So Alex took back some equipment and now we can talk to Wes and Eric.”
“It’s specialized communication. As their time passes, so does ours. So we’re not constantly trying to reach them at the same time.” Lucas finishes.
“Is it helping?”
“It is,” Katie smiles as Lucas nods.
Katie makes a sympathetic sound. “What would help you adjust?”
Nadira laughs sadly. “A better job?”
Lucas gives her hand another squeeze. “How’s school going?”
“Good, it’s good. I applied for some jobs that’d help give me credit with school, but I haven’t heard back yet. Nobody probably wants a former criminal mutant helping to take care of and teach their kids.”
When she’s done talking Nadira closes her eyes and takes a deep slow breath. She’s not going to cry.
“Without you, we’d still be fighting your dad.” Lucas tries.
“And you saved that baby, used your own body to protect him when your dad shot at you,” Katie stresses.
“He still feels so bad about that,” Nadira sighs. “I know he thought I was Jen. I’m sorry I’m not happier. My life could be worse, I could be in jail alongside my dad. I just had a horrible day at work.”
“Nadira, you don’t have to be happy and upbeat for us,” Katie points out as she sits up. “It’s still rough.”
“Customer service is horrible,” Lucas sympathies.
“What do you know about customer service?” Katie challenges.
“Hey, I’m a famous race car driver,” Lucas points out. “I have to try and keep my fans happy while balancing two careers. Customer service is hard.”
“You’ve only done charity races since joining Time Force,” Katie reminds him.
“And believe me, my fans haven’t been happy about that.”
“You can’t please everyone,” Nadira reminds him as she threads her fingers through Lucas’ fingers and gives his hand a squeeze. He smiles at her. Nadira shakes her head and jokes, “I know, I know. I sound like my therapist, but it’s true.”
“Maybe we could put in a good word for you,” Lucas suggests.
“We could! We should. We should get Jen and Trip to help.” Katie enthuses.
“We’re done for the day and were going to go get something to eat after checking in with you,” Lucas offers.
Katie nods. “We can discuss where you put in applications at dinner.”
Nadira agrees. She’s off for the rest of the day and hasn’t eaten out in awhile. It might cheer her up.
Nadira stares at the director in disbelief. She struggles for words for a moment before she manages to squeal in excitement. “I thought this was another job interview.”
“You have friends in high places, they convinced us to give you a chance.” the director tells her.
Nadira grins. What does she need to get done? What does she have to do before starting a new job?
“I have to put notice in at my current job,” she manages, hoping she sounds professional again. She wore her best suit, grey with pink highlights, and a skirt that reaches to just above her knees. She wants to look respectable enough to take care of children.
“Of course,” the director agrees as she hands Nadira a tablet that has all the information for her job and several forms queued up that she needs to fill out before starting. The director points to the forms. “When you’re done, I’ll give you a tour.”
Nadira closes her hands around the tablet and resists the urge to hug it close. “Thank you.”
She can’t wait to tell her dad.