Fantastic Four

Avondale Woods 
Morgan nodded, resigned to the thought that some information was better than no information. Just knowing the perp you're arresting is capable of something Weird could save a life. It signaled Morgan to stay close and put an end to any hijinks… assuming this all worked as described.

The short laugh came unbidden. Christ, she knew someone like that… knew, past tense. The younger woman would have loved all these abilities packed so close. What a playground for the other member of the shitty power club. But Zach hadn't used the past tense. The humor eroded like a sinkhole and left and empty pit inside her. Nah… it wasn't the same person… Mountainside wasn't that small.

But she needed to be sure.

"Hey, I think we got a mutual acquaintance." This could have been a case of mistaken identity. No point going full 'I'm sorry for your loss' until she knew for sure. "What's her name?"

 Minerva split her attention between listening to the conversation happening between Cass and Zach, and reaching blindly with her brain to search for that invisible barrier. Still, nothing. She tried instead to just focus on the conversation, wondering who this magic girl was who could read people so well.

Karim was also trying and also failed. :(

Maybe Cass did know her. He could see Cris being intrigued by a power that suppressed others, not the exact opposite, but sort of a relative to her own.

There might have been some hesitation with offering up a name without prior consent, but with this company, Zachary really didn't think Cris would mind. "Her name's Cris." And then another thought occurred to him. "Had I realized earlier, I'd have tired to invite her along."

Fuck. Morgan frowned with a deep sigh as Zach spoke Cris' name. Mountainside was that small after all. Cris had a knack for routing out their kind so it seemed obvious in hindsight. Her smile tightened at the thought of inviting the deceased Cris. No doubt those calls or texts would hit a deactivated number. Maybe that would be telling enough?

She met Abul's eye; he was still a cop despite his protests and surely he knew what was about to come. Prepare to tell someone their loved one ain't coming home too often and the precursors were obvious. Morgan hadn't joined Abdul on this adventure prepared to break bad news and the sudden need dumbstruck her.

It was tempting to continue with Cris' specter looming over them. But she owed it to Zachary… and she owed it to Cris to share her demise. The case was still open and maybe this was a new lead? Morgan's gaze fell on Minerva. Did she know Cris too? Was there anyone in Mountainside the deceased magical girl hadn't met? But there was no recognition in Minerva's face, just concentration.

She cleared her throat with her eyes now on the ground. A hand came to her neck and she rubbed, buying time and gathering the words. Another sigh parted Morgan's lips, then she met his eye. Maybe better to draw him aside and talk privately. But then she'd just be explaining this again to Abdul and Minerva. Rip the duct tape free and scream.

"I'm sorry to break this to ya man. Cris Yahn is dead."

 Oh, no. That got heavy really fast. Minerva's concentration all melted away into an awkward feeling of suspension, her eyes darting between the three people around her. She didn't know this Cris person, but still. Zachary had lost a friend, and he was just having to learn it. She fell quiet and still, hands intertwining before her so that her fingers might grasp each other anxiously. All concern about figuring out her power took a back seat for now.

Jesus fucking Christ, Cass.

He looked to Zach kind of dumbfounded, mouth partly open, waiting to see how he'd handle... that.


No, no. That shouldn't have happened. Cris could take care of herself, she'd always had. Except. Expect, he hadn't seen her in months and the last time...she was down about something. And then she spent the evening making his sorry ass feel better.

He was going to make it up to her, tell Cris that Marlow was getting better or just let her insult his life choices. She liked that.

"How?" He asked in disbelief, shocked and angry at everything and nothing at the same time.

Those four words broke their congregation, and all eyes fell on Zachary. Appearing contrite, Morgan turned her gaze. Privately would have been better, but there was no good dwelling on that now. Minerva fidgeted and Abdul's aghast expression turned concerned. These moments were anything but simple and Morgan adopted silence too.

How much had Abdul shared about her? Did Zach and Minerva know she was a cop? Doubtful that would have come up in conversation naturally, but Abdul seemed the genial sharing type. Morgan searched out Abdul's eye as Zachary asked the question. She gave a small nod to Minerva, then returned focus to the bereaved.

"Cris was murdered." There didn't feel a need to beat around the bush, not after how she broke the news. And to Zachary's credit, he took the news well.

 Oh. Murder. It was a stark reminder that this world could be a really terrible place. Oh, no. Her eyes darted to Zach, her face unknowingly furrowed into a deep frown, eyes big and sad. Carefully, she would approach her friend and lift a hand to put on his arm if he would allow it. She would like to support him if it was needed.

Cool. Great. A fucking murder. That's what Karim needed to hear about on what was supposed to be a nice moment.

"Sorry to hear about it, man. I... think I'll give you guys a minute."

Probably wasn't the right reaction, abandoning the group to head off for a walk, but maybe he didn't need a reminder of death every five minutes.

This..this was a lot of process and would need time, time he didn't have right now. He took in a deep breath, letting his whole body feel the exhale. It helped, minutely.

"Can I ask you more about this later?" Zachary's gaze fell away from Cass' face to her shoes. The sudden death would stay on his mind for the rest of the day, but to deal with it all now...He couldn't.

Minerva stepped forward with the comforting gesture as Abdul excused himself. The news hit him hard and Morgan nodded to his request, though she'd be asking the questions, not him. "Yeah, sure, man. We can talk later."

The Yahn case uncovered a few of Cris' friends and acquaintances, none had been too helpful in unravelling her death. Pessimism said this would be no different. Light shed on more details which would spawn more questions and lead to few answers. Morgan frowned; they were no closer to finding Cris' killer than they were month's ago. But they'd talk later.

Morgan nodded. "I'll give you a moment." She backed away from Minerva and Zach to follow in Abdul's wake.

 Karim shuffled off, and after a short exchange, Cass would follow his steps. Minerva watched them go. Was that the right thing to do? Did Zachary need space to process this? But also, she didn't want to just. Leave him. Could she be helpful? It was hard to think of a solution to a murdered friend. "I'm sorry, Zach," she offered uncertainly. "Is there... do you need anything?"

Honestly, he had wanted to go off alone. Seemed like both Zach and Cass knew the woman in question. He had intended to give them all space and manage himself some over the topic, but instead Cass was following, and he gave a tense exhale.

"You alright?" he asked, voice measured but not inherently unwelcoming. Just.

Why was there so much of this in this town now. Death and misery and even leaving the force, Karim couldn't escape it.

Zachary took another deep breath, shutting his eyes tight before letting them flicker open. The shock had worn off and he was left with a foreign feeling of loss.


And why was he taking it so hard? Cris was...someone interesting. The first person with powers like him that he'd met in town, before that number exploded to the double digits. So it made sense she meant something to him. But to be this close to blubbering? She'd have hated it and didn't that just make it worse.

"I'm okay, just surprised." He said, wiping his nose across his sleeve. "Let's get back to the others. I promise I'm alright."

That wasn't the smoothest condolences speech Morgan ever gave, but she couldn't take it back now. Cris was dead and Zachary needed to know. Stalking away, Morgan focused more on their upcoming conversation than where she walked or who she followed. Zach's reaction didn't strike as guilty but maybe he knew something he didn't realize he knew? The case was cooling without fresh leads and soon it would be as cold as his power. Yahn would be another unsolved case for the growing archives.

"Huh?" She asked curtly, eyes flicking from the ground to meet Abdul's. "Yeah, why?"

 Zachary insisted he was okay. Minerva had her doubts, but everyone processed and mourned differently. Maybe he just needed to not think about it right now. "Okay," she would say simply, resolved to let it lie if he didn't want to talk about it. She would dart back to the stump to gather her little metal trinkets, then trot back to join the rest of them. It was hard for her not to feel down about this. It was sad. But she would do her best to focus on the task at hand anyway.

She could choose a better time to play dumb.

"Because a friend of yours died," he answered, somewhat measured in his words.

For his part, he was kind of walking to the cars.

He followed behind slowly, hands deep in pockets. Such a sour turn to the day and Zachary couldn't help but feel bad for causing it.

Maybe he should slip Cass his number and head home, give the rest a chance to salvage the meet up.

But by the looks of the group through, he might not the be only one with the same idea.

"Yeah, I know." Morgan fought the irritation rising inside. If she got emotional every time someone she knew died in Mountainside, she may as well quit this city. Floundering in feelings suited some, but Morgan's life choices left her exposed to many sudden departures, often violent.

Desensitized to loss, she wasn't heartless, and each twisted the knife a little differently, but there was a time and place for grief and this wasn't it. Morgan took a steadying breath and made herself smile.
"It's fine. I'm okay. I said my goodbyes." The morgue and Cris' sheeted body on a cold slab leapt from her memories.

With another steadying breath, she subdued the rising images and the dread to put them back where they belonged. Morgan smiled again; righting the capsizing ship. She spared a glance for the others.

 Even as their steps brought them all closer together again, Minerva thought she could feel a heavy weight hanging on the group. She didn't want to say that this had been ruined, but... the mood had certainly been changed. After a few hesitant breaths, she would speak up. "Hey, do you. Do you guys just wanna try this some other time?" She asked tentatively, words wavering with uncertainty.

That must have been why it was so easy for her to toss it out there like that. Instead of just pulling Zachary side or getting his number to mention to him later. Or something... that wasn't announcing it to everyone in the middle of this.

He toyed with this words on his tongue as he nodded, and instead of saying them — instead of making her feel shitty, decided to hold an arm out for a side hug.

That was roughly when Minerva and Zach were in view. He found himself agreeing, sadly.

"Think we're all kinda magic'd out," he'd smile, and then hold his hand out to Zach for a shake and move to Minerva for a parting hug. "Maybe we can do it again in a couple of weeks?"

Sounded good to Karim, as he looked to the others and Cass in particular for her input.

Upon reaching the others, Zachary sensed the newfound heaviness of the group. Unwilling to say anything at first, he let Minerva speak her mind, finding a bit of relief in her solution. Karim followed in agreement, his statement on the magic having run dry for the day hit so very close to the truth. They were all reaching into some kind of reserve, magic or otherwise at the moment. It was best they not to force it.

The glances around did not go unnoticed, they'd need a unanimous decision. "Yeah, let's try again another time." His smile weak, but eyes warm at the prospect.

Abdul didn't have anything else for her except an arm. She stepped against him and smiled at the arm across her shoulders. Morgan slipped from his partial embrace as the others joined, hands in her pockets.

This was her doing and it felt deliberate in hindsight, though she would have sworn it wasn't. Abdul cajoled her into accompanying him to this secret meeting in the woods and her hesitance was clear to everyone there. So, she took the first opportunity to wrap it up quickly. That wasn't how it went down, but she saw the case for it.

Morgan shrugged her agreement. "Yeah, another time."

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