"I couldn't find him," Ivy lied. "I'm sorry." Usually she wasn't a very good liar, but today was an exception, for she found she didn't have to work that hard to appear miserable. Dr. Mitzi assured her that it was alright and perhaps they'd try something different tomorrow, Dr. Pruitt scowled but this time at the Permaboard instead of her, and Morse kept his face totally expressionless.
She hurried through her session with Dr. Hurst and her hour of exercise, afraid that at any minute Gregory might walk in, but never saw him. She hadn't texted him yet- she still hadn't decided what to say.
Two hours later she was sitting on her bed at home, her OmniScreen lying in front of her, and she still hadn't texted him. She just couldn't get the pictures out of her head. Sometimes they made her feel like crying and sometimes they made her wish she was still in the SimVerse so she could kick something and sometimes she just sat there, numb, and trying not to think of anything. How could anyone ever make someone else feel this way? It was like she was never going to see the sun again.
She got up and paced around her room, forcing her mind back to the problems in the SimVerse, using the project to escape real life instead of the other way around this time. She didn't really get what Kurt had been saying about violating someone's rights, or if he meant legally or ethically. Was what they were doing really illegal? Could they go to prison for it? She got worked up about that for a while before remembering that the SimVerse was just prototype technology- privacy laws probably hadn't even begun to cover that yet. But that didn't really put her in the clear.
She sighed, rubbing her temples with her fingertips, trying to ease the headache that was coming on. School started in two weeks and she didn't feel nearly as prepared as she wished she were. And what would happen when she had to juggle school and the study? Between seven hours of classes and four hours of SimVerse, she would barely have any time left!
Her OmniScreen pinged. It was the same sound it always made when she got a message of some kind, but for some reason it sounded ominous today and she approached with caution, turning the screen away from her as she accepted the message in case it was a vidcall from Gregory. It was a vidcall, but it was from Kurt, and Ivy breathed a silent sigh of relief before turning the screen back towards herself and grinning.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Nothing," he said, grinning back. "How was your session?"
She started to tell him the same lie she's told the others then hesitated. If anyone understood everything that was going on right now, it would definitely be Kurt. Then she thought of something else. "Can you hack a vidcall?" she asked.
Instantly his expression went on the alert. "Yeah, you can. It's actually pretty easy, with the right technology."
"Oh," she said, defeated.
"Is there something you want to talk about?"
"Do you want to come over here?" he offered. She only had to consider for a moment before refusing- after hours of crying and pacing and burying her face in her pillows she was in no shape to be seen in public. "You could come over here, though," she suggested.
He agreed and logged off as she put the OmniScreen down, feeling oddly relieved. She needed someone to talk to about this, someone who already had all the background of the story and wouldn't ask for clarification every few seconds. That, and she wanted Kurt's opinion about what she had done. She couldn't bring herself to feel bad about it- Gregory had deserved to have himself questioned so that all the nasty was out in the open between them- but it was another gray area and that seemed to be Kurt's specialty.
A few minutes later the OmniScreen beeped again with another vidcall and Ivy opened it, wondering if Kurt had gotten lost.
The Gregory's face popped up.
Too late Ivy realized what she'd done and glanced down at the vidcall handle. Crap.
"Hey, Ivy," Gregory said, oblivious to her sudden and violent desire to leap through the OmniScreen and strangle him. "I just wanted to say sorry about last night, you know? I swear I'm not mad at you, but with the project and everything there's been a lot going on and I guess it just kind of got to me. Anyway, I thought we could try again tonight." He paused for a moment, waiting for her to agree, then seemed to notice her forbidding expression for the first time. "Ivy?" he asked.
"Wendy," she said, then pushed a button. The OmniScreen went dark, and then for good measure she put it at the back of her closet, where she wouldn't hear any pings or buzzing, no matter how many times anyone tried to get in touch with her.