Cybil never thought much of her gift of concealment; her ability to blend in with the people around her served purely utilitarian purposes during her time with the Organization. Now that she was far more aware of herself and what she could do, she could appreciate a sense of peace that came over her as she did so. She just felt more…normal this way. To her, it felt better than having to acknowledge just how different she was.
She let that peace roll off of her as she neared her destination: a bar, of all places. It was a rather middling establishment by the look of things: a local watering hole sandwiched inside an urban sprawl. As she sidled along the back wall, one question echoed through her mind: Why am I here?
She echoed this question aloud, directing it at her father at the other end.
"I'm telling you, this is where he's confirmed to be at."
"At 10 am, at a bar of all places? How did he even get in?"
"I'm willing to bet he sweet-talked a lot of people to get in here. He's practically made for it, after all."
Recalling everything she knew about Max, she had to admit that if he wanted to, the boy's charm could open up many doors for him. Still, what was he doing here?
"I can go over the mission again, just so we're clear," James offered.
"Okay then. I've already had a friend of mine get your DNA into their systems."
"How'd you do that?"'
"Long story." James clearly didn't seem interested in talking about it. In truth, there were many ways he could've acquired that DNA. Yet, there was one question that still bothered her.
"So, who is this 'friend' of yours?"
"Longer story. Anyway, all you have to do is act as a patron for a little while. From what I've been able to gather, he's working here of some capacity. Of what, I don't know."
"How old is he supposed to be, again?"
A brief pause passed as he thought the question over. "About…15 at this point, physically speaking."
"Okay…" The girl swiped a stray hand through her hair. "What else?"
"Head in and act as natural as possible. See if you can get a moment alone with him."
"Sorry," James said sheepishly. "Poor choice of words. Just isolate him somehow. I'm sure you'll figure it out."
"Hmm. Still, how do I get in? I don't exactly look 21. They can still turn me away."
"Actually, they can turn you away only if they verify your age. Remember, there are people out there who look younger than they actually are." He paused briefly, as if to pick his words carefully. "Remember Syracuse?"
Cybil felt her eyes roll. Even now, she didn't understand why that mission even existed. "I swear to you, Brooke looked like a high-school student!" Though, that hadn't stopped her from doing what she had to do. She abruptly shoved away that train of thought before she could get too deep into it. Go on."
"Well, with any luck, they'll just run with your DNA. Just don't arouse any suspicion until you get a read on him. Hopefully, you won't have to fight with him like Ty."
She closed her eyes, drawing in a steady breath. "Me too."
James caught her sigh, as evidenced in his response. "If you have any questions, keep in touch. Good luck, and be careful."
Cybil shifted in her chair as she waited for any sign of her sibling. She found she'd been doing that a lot recently, and didn't really know why. She couldn't understand where this sudden restlessness came from. Wait, why did she care? She had to focus.
Thankfully, what few patrons walked in (as it was about 11 am) paid her any heed. In fact, the barkeep actually questioned her on this, but she referred to her registered DNA. To her relief, he shrugged and let her go, with the promise that she wouldn't actually drink. She had no plans to. She only bought a burger to make her look less conspicuous as she waited.
Someone finally caught her conscious attention, but it was not who she was expecting. It was a heavy-set, dark-skinned man. He was dressed casually, but he looked familiar… It was eerie. He didn't seem interested in what was around her. He barely interacted with anyone else, and stole "passing" glances at her at times.
"Um, Father?" She whispered, directing her speech at her communicator.
"What is it? Do you have a visual on Max?"
"No, but it's someone I think I know…"
She could swear she knew who it was, but she couldn't force her mind to make the connection. Something inside her head just wouldn't click.
"Er, someone." She'd never felt this unsure when identifying someone. Just what was wrong with her? "I'll keep an eye out," she said with a calm that even she herself knew was feigned. Luckily, James didn't seem to notice.
"Okay. Like I said, be careful. Out."
"Hello. Am I interrupting something?"
To her surprise, the man she was just talking about was now standing right in front of her. A smile that felt more to her like a poker face adorned his lips.
"You know, not many people can get their hands on that little toy of yours." He was obviously referring to her earpiece.
She threw out the first excuse that came to mind. "I work in finance."
His eyes were dismissive, but his smile never wavered. "Interesting."
"Yeah." She was mentally willing this man to disappear now. Oh, why couldn't she have been gifted with invisibility?
"Looking for someone?"
She didn't know how to respond. How did he hit this so squarely on the head with one question? This was Cal all over again. On second thought, this might've been worse.
"I know you don't work in finance. His shift should be starting soon, anyhow. Happy hunting."
The man's words bounced around in her skull as he left. Just who the heck was he?
Apparently, she'd said that last part aloud, because a response came. "In due time, Cybil."
She sat there in a stupor until James's voice came through.
"You don't have to do this, Cybil. If this is too much for you…"
"NO!" Thankfully, she only got a few shocked looks by some of the clientele who turned back to what they were doing after she played it off with what she could scrounge up in terms of an excuse.
"Who was that?" she asked into the communicator.
He didn't answer. Instead, he asked, "I don't want you to put yourself through this."
"Like I said, I want to," She willed herself to believe her own words.
This time, her father caught on to her forced tone. "Do you really?"
"I'm fine. Honestly," she said, drained. She hated arguing with him and…and herself. She shut off her communicator for once, and took a cursory look up.
Nothing of interest…
Her eyes flickered to a boy conversing with an older woman, both in work uniforms. She didn't catch enough of their conversation amidst the noise to know what they were talking about, but she caught a glimpse of the boy's face as he turned to look at something else.