A/N: Trigger warnings for character death and abuse.
"I, um… I'm not in trouble, am I?"
"No, you're not in any trouble," says Agent Gordon, voice smooth and careful. "I'm just trying to establish a timeline here. Can you tell me what happened in the days leading up to the incident?"
Logan fidgets in the chair. "Starting when?" he says. "I mean, 'cause really it started with Bree and Chase and the others coming back to visit."
"Leo, this place is a mess." Bree tossed a sneaker and a soda can over her shoulder as she cleared a space on the couch in the room where she used to live. "I thought with me gone our living quarters would look spotless."
Leo shrugged. "We've been busy," he said. "Training, learning. And the Exoskeleton got damaged during that big hailstorm."
"Right." Bree stretched out and Adam sunk into the couch beside her. "Gotta say, it's nice to be back in paradise."
Chase stalked into the room working furiously over a tablet. "Don't get comfy," he reminded Bree. "We're here on business."
"And my birthday," Leo piped up.
"Oh." The mood in the room abruptly dropped. "Right, yeah. That."
"Leo's birthday was supposed to be this big affair," Taylor says, tapping her fingers against the table. "His eighteenth. And Chase completely forgot about it. You could tell."
Gordon scribbles something down on his notepad. "And that upset Leo?"
"I mean, how would you feel?"
Skylar kicked the dummy across the training room and spun around once for good measure. "And that's how we took out the Hellfire Hornet," she explained to the enraptured bionic students. "It wasn't easy, but teamwork makes the dream work."
"Hey," Bree said, walking into the room. "Skylar, have you seen Oliver?"
"By the pool." She looked annoyed. "Why, what do you need him for?"
The students watched Bree shrink in on herself a little bit. "I just need to ask him something," she said. "So. Pool. I'll see you, Skylar." And she left.
"Skylar kept talking about teamwork," Kate says, rolling her eyes. "But I saw the way she looked at Bree. That was a feud. There was bad blood between those two and you could smell it."
"I can't do a scan of Bree's infrastructure until I get all the equipment up and running again," Douglas told Chase irritably, scratching at the bandages around his head. "I understand your concern-"
"If you understood my concern you would already have run the scan," Chase snapped. "I don't trust that Arcturion thing. I just want to know that my sister's not gonna turn into some crazed superpowered killer and I don't think that's too much to ask."
"I'll keep working on it."
"Yeah, Bree was different," Taylor says. "I mean, it'd been months. People change. And she had all those cool new superpowers, of course she was going to act a little different."
"Did she scare you?"
Gordon's question causes a shadow to pass over Taylor's expression. She shakes her head. "Bree's not the one we were afraid of."
Kaz shot a controlled fireball at his burger patty and charred it to a delectable-looking well-done. "Lunch is served," he grinned.
Oliver glared at him from the other side of the table. "You could've just asked Thermo Hands over there to do that," he said. "If you keep messing around with your superpowers, somebody's gonna get hurt."
Kaz just shrugged and bit into his burger, and then Skylar and Bree showed up over Oliver's shoulder to sit at the cafeteria table. "So," Bree said to the alien girl, "what do you think of the island?"
"It's beautiful," Skylar said, sliding into a seat beside Oliver. "So romantic, too." She slipped her hand into Oliver's.
Bree noticed. And she didn't look happy about it.
"Oh, I saw the way that she acted around Oliver and Skylar," Logan says. "Bree was really into Oliver the first time he came to the island, way before any of that Elite Force stuff. I guess she still was."
Douglas sparred with Bree in the training room, ignoring their small audience. He held up deflector plates to fend off her rapidfire proton rings, stepping around her in a weird kind of dance. "Okay, now try hitting me with an energy blast."
"You sure?" Bree tugged the collar of her shirt up over the fading bruises on her neck. "I don't want to hurt you."
"I'll be fine," Douglas told her. "Just see if you can hit me."
"The bandages?" Douglas says, trying not to pick at the gauze around his head. "Oh, I got hit during that hailstorm from before, same one that damaged the equipment. Almost lost an ear. We get some crazy storms on the island."
"And Bree's injuries?" Gordon says. "Were those also from the hailstorm?"
Douglas blinks. "What? You mean the bruises on her…? No, I don't know what those were from. But she's a superhero. She goes up against some scary guys. I figured she got hit in a fight."
"I'm doing everything I can," Chase promised, handing Oliver a bottled water. "There's more tech here than at Elite Force headquarters. As soon as Douglas gets it up and running, I'll be able to do a full scan of Bree's bionics and superhuman attributes."
"Well, hurry it up," Oliver said, unscrewing the bottle cap on his water. "Who knows what's going on with her? I don't want her to suddenly develop super strength or something without us knowing it."
Chase leveled his gaze at Oliver. "She'd tell us," he said. "And besides, what's wrong with her having enhanced strength?"
Outside, rain started to fall, drops splattering on the window pane. "I just don't think that we, as a team, should be keeping secrets from each other." He left, Chase staring at his back the whole time.
"Chase wasn't happy with Oliver," Kate tells Gordon. "I know that much."
"Seriously, was I the only one who saw this coming?" Taylor asks, leaning back in her chair. "I mean, evil parent plus extraordinary abilities. I might not be as smart as he was, but I can add."
"So you weren't surprised?"
Taylor straightens in her seat. "I'm surprised something didn't go down much sooner."
Kaz and Adam showed up poolside just as Bree and Oliver were leaving. "What's up?" he said, balancing a beach ball on one hand. "Adam and I were just heading for the ocean to have some fun. Wanna come with?"
"We're good," Oliver said. The ice in his voice was almost as palpable as the ice gathering at the tips of his fingers.
"Kaz and Oliver are best friends," Douglas says. "Well, they used to be anyway. This Elite Force thing… Usually I trust Donnie's ideas, but I was never sure about combining bionics and superheroes. And for Kaz and Oliver, for Skylar… it was just so close after that whole shebang with the Arcturion and Mr. Terror."
"Bree's not dangerous," Leo insisted, following Chase through the corridors of the academy. "Look at her! You know her."
"Yes, I know her," Chase said. "But I don't know superpowers. I don't know what our latest confrontations might have done to her. I'm trying to keep her safe. You understand that?"
Leo shook his head. "She wouldn't hurt anyone."
"She might hurt herself," Chase pointed out. "I worry about that every single day. Let me worry about that, okay? You just enjoy your birthday." And he stormed off.
"Yeah, Bree and I are friends," Taylor says, picking at her nails. "I could tell something was going on with her. I didn't push it, though. Figured it was just the new powers messing up her head."
Skylar twisted Bree's arm behind her back and shoved her against the hydroloop door. "You gotta stop lying to me, Bree," she whispered, ignoring Bree's attempts to free herself. In this position, Skylar could see the scratches on Bree's arm, like someone besides Skylar had been manhandling her like this."What's up with you and Oliver? I need you to tell me."
"I can't tell you," Bree said. "But it's not what you're thinking, I swear. We're not sneaking around on you or anything."
Skylar let go of her, looking astonished. "Bree, that's not what I think."
"Well then why are you throwing me around?" she asked, rubbing her arm.
"It's just that every time he walks into a room it's like-" But he walked into the room right then. And Bree shook her head rapidly. Skylar stopped talking.
"Hey," Oliver said. "What's going on? Bree?" They froze, at a standstill.
Then Logan and Taylor showed up with streamers and balloons to decorate the place for Leo's birthday.
"Alright, that was nuts," Logan says. "It was like we walked into a soap opera or something. They all looked at us and then just went in different directions."
"Do you know what they were talking about?" Gordon says.
Logan shakes his head. "But I'm pretty sure they weren't arguing about which present to get Leo."
The night of the party arrived. Leo dragged Bree, Chase, and Douglas away from computers and calculations to celebrate in the common area. "I can finally vote now," he cheered, handing Adam and Taylor slices of cake. "And I can play the lottery."
"And you can lose the lottery," Skylar pointed out, accepting a piece of cake from Kaz.
The music kicked on, and people started milling around. Oliver stuck by Skylar's side. Chase, Bree, and Adam lounged by the window and Leo walked around with Taylor talking to the students.
"I need some air," Bree said eventually, stepping away from the festivities. She headed out toward the pool. Behind her, Oliver and Skylar followed.
"Do I think things would've gone differently if we weren't on an island?" Kate says. "I don't know. Maybe. Maybe people wouldn't have felt so isolated. Or maybe everyone's secrets would have just stayed secrets."
"She's planning something." Oliver looked bizarre with the pale light from the mentors' living quarters framing his silhouette, the raindrops dusting his hair. "Skylar, do something. We can't trust her."
"I came out here to be alone," Bree spat back.
"You do everything alone," Oliver said. "It's like you don't trust us anymore. It's like something changed about you when you touched the Arcturion."
"Oliver, calm down," Skylar said, but he ignored her. When she grabbed his arm to try and get him to listen, he jerked her away and threw her backward, super strength sending her flying back into the sliding glass door, which shattered.
"Skylar!" he said, shocked at his own strength. He moved toward the fallen alien girl but Bree jumped in front of him.
"Leave her alone."
Behind her, Adam, Kaz, Leo, Chase and Taylor ran out from the party upon hearing the commotion. Oliver didn't even look at them.
"The storm was picking up," Taylor remembers. "It was getting hard to see at that point. But it didn't look like Skylar was moving."
Bree stood her ground in front of Skylar's limp form, but Oliver shoved her aside like she was a curtain. "Skylar," he said again, kneeling beside her among the shards of glass. Bree grabbed him by the shirt and super-sped with him around to the other side of the pool while everyone watched on from just inside the mentors' quarters.
"What's going on?" Adam called.
Oliver whirled around to face him and the rest of the group. "Bree's losing it," he said. "She's unstable."
"No I'm not," Bree snarled, grabbing Oliver and forcing him up against the rocky outer wall. She started charging up a thermal energy blast, they could tell from the traces of light gathering around her body.
But Adam grabbed her around the waist and pulled her away from Oliver. "Just stop it," he said. "Everyone calm down."
"Let go of her!" Having gotten up, Skylar was right behind Adam and she yanked him away from Bree. "Oliver, what's wrong with you?"
"There's nothing wrong with me."
At that point, Leo had run up between Oliver and Bree and stood like a barrier between them. Taylor grabbed Skylar's arm to keep her from lunging across Leo at Oliver, and Chase and Kaz each grabbed one of Adam's arms in an attempt to drag him away from Skylar and Bree.
"Enough!" Adam shouted, his eyes glowing dangerously red.
"I never thought of him as… as someone capable of killing," Kate says. "Maybe it was for a good reason, I don't know. But he was just always so nice."
"I don't want to get anybody in trouble," Logan says. "I'm just telling you what I know. And I know it was a laser sphere that killed him."
"Somebody was going to die that night," Taylor says. "I know it sounds crazy, but… you could feel it in the air."
No one could tell if Oliver's heart stopped when he got hit, or sometime after he struck the wall and slumped to the floor. They could tell he wasn't ever getting back up, though.
Chase called Mr. Davenport and Bree sunk, shaking, into one of the poolside chairs. Douglas finally showed up and he kept asking Bree if the marks on her neck were old her new, if the scratches on her arms were old or new, if the dark bruises on her legs were old or new.
"Old," she said. "They're all old. It's been going on for a while." Her eyes were damp. "What happens now?"
"I didn't want anyone to get hurt," Adam tells Agent Gordon. "I mean, someone was getting hurt. Someone had been getting hurt the whole time." His voice breaks and he gets very quiet.
"Take your time," Gordon coaxes him. "You can take your time."
Adam runs a hand over his face. "I wish we'd never broken up the team."
"I knew him before he had superpowers," Skylar says, looking small and less intimidating than usual. "He was always kind of weird, always pestering me for a date… but after we got together, he was different. Actually, after he got superpowers, he was different. He used to be a sweet kid." She shakes her head. "I wish I knew what happened. And I wish I'd known about it when it happened instead of so much later."
"My family is my team," Chase says. "Oliver and Kaz and Skylar, sure, we worked together. But I never sided with them against my family."
"You said before that you were worried about Skylar," Gordon reminds him.
"Well, she could have died," Chase points out. "This could have been a lot worse. I wish you could understand how colossally bad this could have been."
"One time, an older version of me came here from the future and told me he was going to become a supervillain," Kaz says. His face looks incredibly pale and he can't seem to stop his hands from shaking. "I forgot about it… now I wish I'd listened."
"Yes, he was hurting me," Bree says, sitting up as straight as she possibly can. Her collar hangs open, displaying the fading imprints around her collar bones. "It was like ever since I got superpowers, he couldn't handle it. He'd pull me aside, hit me…" Her voice trails off. "I was stupid. Kept it quiet. I wish I told somebody before… before everything happened."
"I'm not a violent person," Leo says. "He was. I'm not. I'm not like that. Of course, that being said… no, I'm not sorry he's dead." He swallows. "I just wish I hadn't been the one to kill him."
Gordon finishes up his last round of interviews and then leaves the cafeteria to speak with Mr. Davenport in his private quarters. "Don," he greets the man. "Again, I'm really sorry about everything that's happened."
"Please," Donald says. He grabs a chair and pushes it toward Agent Gordon. "Thank you again for coming to help with everything. This is all just a lot to take."
"I understand." Gordon fiddles with his notebook before looking up at Donald. "You should know- all their stories corroborate each other. Leo killed Oliver."
Donald nods slowly, one hand over his mouth. "Can you do something for me, before anything else?" he says. "Can you make sure all our records say Leo was 17 at the time of the event? I mean… I mean, the kid just turned 18 and we can mess with the papers, he can't be tried as an adult for this, he just can't be…"
"Davenport, you don't need to worry about any of that," Gordon promises. "The story's pretty clear. Oliver was hurting your daughter, probably going to go after Skylar. Leo stopped him. Any jury would recognize it as a justified homicide, whether or not Leo was 18. He might have to do some community service, but given the President's got a sweet spot for you and your bionic island… and the fact that Oliver had no family aside from his imprisoned mother… I don't think this even needs to go to court."
Donald nods again, trying to gather up his anxieties enough to speak. "Thank you, Gordon," he says. "Thank you for handling everything."
"Oh, it's not all quite handled yet," Gordon reminds him. "Those kids are going to be pretty shaken up."
"I know," Donald says. "I'm gonna… I'm gonna go and talk to them. Thank you, again." And he walks away.
In the seconds after Taylor threw a full-strength laser sphere at Oliver, everything seemed to explode into a flurry of chaos. Skylar screamed and Oliver hit the wall behind him before falling down, still as stone. Chase couldn't stop yelling at Bree, "What has he done? What has he done?" and Kaz dropped to his knees beside his once-best friend.
"I'm sorry," Taylor gasped, to Oliver, to Leo, to herself, to no one in particular. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry… what did I do? What did I just do?"
"Is he…?" Skylar said, sounding scared. But no one knew for sure which answer she was more afraid of hearing.
"He's gone," Kaz said, fruitlessly checking for a pulse, a breath of air. "He's just gone."
"Everyone get back," Chase said with authority, using his molecular kinesis to guide Kaz away from Oliver as gently as he possibly can. "This just became a crime scene."
"What did I do?" Taylor kept mumbling. "What did I do?"
Leo grabbed Bree and pulled her in close, whispering furiously, before they broke apart and Bree marched toward Taylor. "Come on," she said, speeding Taylor back into the mentors' quarters and away from all the action. "Listen to me," she said quietly, a hand on each of Taylor's shoulders, their faces close. "You didn't do anything. You didn't do a damn thing. You watched Oliver attack me and Skylar, and then you watched Leo hit him with a laser sphere from his bionic arm."
"Davenport trusts Leo," Bree said, shaking her head against Taylor's interruptions. "The public trusts Leo, to an extent. When Leo says he had to use deadly force to stop a threat, people will believe him."
"But he didn't do it," Taylor said, beginning to shake as the shock really hit her.
"Listen to me," Bree said again, and when she clung to the other girl, Taylor could see the purple bruises wrapping around Bree's wrists. "If the government thinks that one of Victor Krane's bionic soldiers killed a superhero, they will never believe you had good intentions. You will get locked up. And everyone else- Kate, Logan, all the other students… the public won't ever trust them again, either."
Taylor shook her head. "I didn't mean to… I just wanted everyone to stop fighting."
"I know," Bree said. "Taylor, I think you might have saved my life. And I'm not letting you get locked up for that."
Bree and Taylor walked back out to the pool deck to wait for Douglas, and Bree shot Leo a look. "I told them," he said. "We all know the story. And we're gonna stick to it."
"Leo," Taylor said, grabbing his arm. She looked worried. "I don't know if-"
Leo shook his head and cut her off. "We all know the story," he said with more urgency. "And we're gonna stick to it."
Taylor didn't say anything.