-PatB-

A few days before Colony 15-1

A girl in a pink t-shirt with a white cartoon mouse on the front and pink jeans wrapped around nice hips walks through the slanting evening light, up to my front door, and knocks.

I look at her through the camera, cute face, freckles, bushy dark hair, nice chest. The first, but not only, girl I've ever kissed. And she's at my door.

"Let her in," I call down, before starting down the stairs myself. She's inside, standing beside Charlotte, dry-washing her hands, looking at the floor, as I clatter down the stairwell. Several of the kids are staring, and the rest are watching a little more circumspectly.

She looks up at me, bashful. I smile at her, "Come upstairs."

She nods, and I wave her up ahead of me. She climbs quickly, and I watch the play of muscles in he legs and butt. She pauses at the sight of my terrariums, with their collections of hard-spinning spiders.

"Next floor," I tell her. She continues to climb.

She stops at the top, looking around at the open-plan space, kitchen at one side, open door to the bathroom, my bed, couch, TV, a scattering of chairs.

"How's Glory Girl?"

"All better," she sighs, "But I need a place to crash, and a new team."

I read her shirt, which has "I think so Brain, but we're already naked" written under the mouse's face. I blink, look up to meet her eyes, let my head tilt just a little to the side, "A new team?"

She sighs, stills her hands again, looks down and to her left, cocking her hips as she twists a little, "Apparently having rules that kept me from repairing my dad until after . . . " She trails off, looks back at me for a moment, looks down at her hands.

"Your mom let the most valuable girl in all of Brockton Bay walk down here by herself?" I ask her, appalled. A healer, much less a bio tinker, of her capabilities, in the hands of any of the gangs . . .

"It was more 'You are not my daughter, get out of my-'" she cuts herself off, blinking, tears in her eyelashes.

I step in, slip my hand between her shoulder blades, and urge her towards me. Her arms wrap around me and she presses her face to my neck and upper chest — I hadn't realized how short she is, the top of her head tucks under my chin with her standing almost straight. She shudders, quiet, hot tears dripping down my neck into my shirt, and I wrap my other arm about her shoulders.

We stand like this for a while, not long enough to make my feet or joints hurt, and I rock us gently from side to side as she cries. Her tears ebb after a while, and some time after that she pulls back a little, "Sorry 'bout that."

"Not a problem," I tell her, catching her eyes and holding them. She glances away, blushing. I feel a small, triumphant smile try to twist my lips, so I kiss her on her forehead, just a quick peck, and pull back, "I'm sure we could find a place for you in the Undersiders."

"No," she says, "I don't want to join your team, I want to join your team," she pauses, blushes even worse, tries again, "I want to work for you, not the Undersiders," she says instead.

"Why?"

"You believe in me," she tucks her head under my chin, speaking into my collarbone, warm breath ghosting over my skin, "You think I'm a good person. You can stop me if I need to be stopped. When you look at me you see me," she shakes her head, "I hope you'll ride herd on my experiments."

After a few awkward moments of just holding her I start to stroke her hair, petting it from the top of her head down her back, and rock her side to side again, "I can fix you a bed here, or we can find you someplace safe in the area."

"Here, please," she says.

"You'll have to share a bathroom."

"I've done that for years."

"Anything you need from your parent's?"

"Nothing I need."

"Costume?"

"Wearing it. Call me Pinky."

I stop twisting side to side, "OK," after a moment I start back up, "Why?"

"Panacea wasn't. Time to be someone else, with different limits."

"Pinky because?"

She pulls back to look me in the eyes, "Pinky and the Brain, from Animaniacs?"

I give her a most eloquent shrug.

"There should be some copies in town somewhere."

-PatB-

A/N: Both of them know what they want, and both are almost willing to say it. Each of them is also willing to risk a lot, because the status quo is pretty bad. What's the worst that can happen? Then end of the world?

Oh, that's penciled in for two years from now . . .

24 Nov 2017: Second chunk ready for posting.

29 Nov 2017: one word changed.