My three o'clock appointment is a babe. Human, slim, bit over average height, muscular rather than busty, face a bit too angular for knockout, but clear (pardon the cliché) mocha skin and legs up to here. Sable brown hair is cut sensibly but fashionably short into a cap of tight curls, jewelry is limited to a small silver ring, Celtic pattern, on the right hand, although holes in both ears indicate more during off time. A blue pantsuit and discreet earpiece complete the picture of a professional working woman. Oh, she has nothing on some of the professional secretaries, and could probably fade into a crowd without problems, but getting herself settled there on my couch, she definitely qualifies as a babe.

Finally satisfied with her position, she crosses her arms and glares at me, hazel eyes seeming to glitter catlike in the shadows. "I'd like it to go on record that I'm doing this under protest," she informs me in a smooth but unremarkable alto. "I already underwent a psych evaluation and sent it in."

"I understand, Ms. Gray," I reassure her. And really, I do. Melody Gray has been with Ares for three years now, and every time this comes around, she's handed in a signed report by an outside doctor - and it's been sealed from even me in my position as head psychiatrist. She obviously has connections. But this year, some mysterious paperwork tangle meant her evaluation disappeared into the system. I have connections too. "But it's company policy. If you want to keep your job...."

A slight dip of the head acknowledges that. "Let's get this over with," she growls. Something in her tone reminds me I'm not dealing with the average secretary, but a professional bodyguard, someone who could quite easily kill me five different ways without breaking into a sweat. I resettle myself in my chair. "So. Tell me about yourself."

Her eyes narrow faintly, increasing the aura of danger. Then she shrugs in an almost casual brush-off. "I'm twenty-five, single, live alone. Only child, mother deceased seven years ago, father still alive. Few relatives from both sides, mostly cousins, a few metahumans in the group. No pets, no steady significant other, minimal social life, no addictions, and a mild allergy to milk. Hobbies are mainly collecting old comic books and track related activities, particularly racing. Mild dislike of cars, tendency to actually obey speed limits and vehicle law. And no history in the family of mental diseases. Anything else?"

Hmm. Interesting. This does look promising. "You didn't list your status as a magician."

Again the glare increases for a moment. "Shaman, actually. Of Leopard. My skills were identified when I was sixteen. And I figured it would be on my file."

"Tell me about that."

She shifts. An uncomfortable admission, then. "I was visiting some cousins in CalFree. One night I went out with a friend, and we ended up going for a late night walk. A drunk driver came along when we were crossing the street. He was almost on us when we realized he wasn't going to stop, so...." She shrugs. "I raised my hands and wished he'd just stop there, go away, not hit us, not kill us, and.... well, it's called a ram spell. I unconsciously threw this buncha magic at him, it slammed into the car like a ton of bricks, and managed to send him off course enough to miss us and hit a tree." She raises her chin defiantly. "He died, but we made it out alive. Scared drekless, but alive."

"And how did that make you feel?"

"Excuse me?" She lost the stone face long enough to arch an eyebrow and give me an incredulous look. "Unless a person is a psychopath, killing someone is very damn traumatic. I hardly think I'm the exception."

"Yes, but I need to get a better idea of your history. After all, this is the first time we've done this."

Her hands twitch, and we both can imagine my neck in between them. A rumbling sigh, more like a growl, escapes. "I was devastated. Went home a nervous wreck, lost myself in my magic lessons in an attempt to make sure that never happened again. Joined the track team, nothing spectacular but not pathetic, picked up a scholarship from Ares to go to college. Mom died in a car accident, I went to college, graduated, went to live in the old house when Dad went into a nursing home, and started at Ares."

"So if the deaths traumatized you so much, why become a bodyguard?"

She shrugs again. "Gotta talent for combat spells. And I don't think of it as hurting people so much as protecting them. It's all part of the totem thing."

Her glare is truly beginning to disturb me. Perhaps it would be better to leave this where it is. After all, I'm on her file now. I can always reconvene the session at a later date if deemed necessary. It's hard to restrain my smirk. The stories I've heard about Ms. Gray are fascinating. We will be talking again. "Well, I'm afraid I've another appointment soon. Perhaps we can finish this at a later date?"

She shrugs as she flows to her feet. "So long as I'm signed off on the policy."

"Of course, of course. We just need to finish things at a different time."

"Mm. Of course." She glides towards the door, stopping just before the lintel. "By the way, out of curiosity Doc? Does your need for control happen to go back to that incident with your wife? Excuse me, ex-wife, and her spending habits?" My jaw drops in involuntary surprise, and she gives me an icy, catlike grin. "College had a wonderful curriculum. Next time you try to psych a patient out for info, make sure they don't have the psychology degree to know you're bullshitting. And I've resubmitted my outside evaluation. This meeting was canceled."

She strolls out, and I'm left shaking in my chair, not sure if I've heard vindictive chuckling or the growl of a large cat echoing through the office.

Get me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home

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