Chapter 9

Tears streamed down the man's face. His eyes were bloodshot and his lips trembled. He had his hands clenched at his sides but that didn't stop the shaking. His mouth opened in a silent gasp. Two more steps separated him from the end. His knees looked ready to buckle but he stayed upright.

Slowly, his right foot slid forward a few inches. The second was quick to follow. He sucked his lower lip in and bit down. He released it. Slid each foot another inch closer. His fists opened and he spread his palms against his pant covered legs.

This time, he lifted his foot and took an actual step. He was right on the edge. His eyes closed and he mouthed a silent prayer. He opened his eyes and took a half step. His Adam's apple bobbed when he swallowed hard. And then he leapt from the roof.

Chloe gasped. Finally she was able to turn away, though the damage had been done. She had watched in morbid fascination as the projection played out. How many times had she seen similar things in movies and it hadn't had any effect on her? But this wasn't a movie. That had actually happened. When, she didn't know, but it had happened. A man had leapt from the roof of this building and the horror of it had stained it there forever.

She felt a hand land gently on her shoulder and Chloe looked up to see Parker frowning in sympathy.

"Was this your first?" She asked her voice close to emotionless. Chloe shook her head, unable to speak just yet. "I figured as much when you didn't try to stop or talk to him. It took me a while to figure out the difference between Residuals and real life."

Chloe tried to swallow past the lump in her throat. "This was my fourth." She whispered.

The corner of Parker's mouth quirked up. "Then you're way ahead of me when I first found out about them. What gave this one away to you?" The older woman glanced over her shoulder to the scene Chloe knew was playing out again.

"He didn't react when we came up here. And we were talking so he would have heard us." She felt like she was going to throw up. Between having to deal with her least favorite part of being a necromancer and the wind and height she was ready to call it a day and pass out. And it was only 9:30.

Parker turned back to her and nodded. "That's good. Really good."

She offered a genuine smile and Chloe couldn't remember the last time an adult other than Mr. Bae had done so. Even her own aunt had been too busy being annoyed and scared to comfort her. And now she was sounding ungrateful. Great.

"Is there any way to get rid of them?" Chloe asked. She figured it couldn't hurt to double check. After all, Margaret had betrayed them and Tori wasn't exactly exaggerating when she called the old lady a bitch.

Parker's smile turned a little sad. "No. There isn't." She shrugged. "I wish there was though. I love the rooftop and I always face the other way, but sometimes it's hard to ignore it. Ignore him." She sighed heavily. "I'm not saying you should build up a tolerance to it because that'll just make you bitter, but you should try to ignore them for the most part. They'll just make you upset."

Chloe could understand where Parker was coming from. She remembered the way Margaret had talked about the Residuals. Cold and distant. The way Parker spoke of them was almost pitying. Like she felt sorrowful for every one she'd come across.

The slender hand lifted off her shoulder. "Why don't we go inside? I bet Sophie's here with breakfast." Parker loped off towards the door and Chloe hurried to catch up. There was no way she was going to stay up there with that thing.

She just hoped that one day soon she would be able to bounce back from it as fast as Parker. The older blonde was back to grinning in her crazy way and talking about how after breakfast she was going to teach Chloe how to pick a lock, but of course she would have to go back to her place and get her stopwatch because Nate's was broken and – Chloe stopped listening and let Parker continue to ramble all the way back to the apartment.

Hardison looked at the younger girl in appreciation. Despite her punk-princess thing she had going on; the girl knew her way around a computer. She was a software designer she'd told him. They hadn't done much except try to get into the Edison Group's security database, but Hardison could see that in a few years she would be as good as him. She'd even known of an obscure program that could be used to manipulate cameras at a distance. That meant no more hiding in the parking lot and hoping they didn't know he was right outside.

She didn't ask stupid questions and she didn't dare set a drink near his laptop. When she had seen the way he was able to project the information onto the six televisions across from the couch he could have sworn she'd sighed in content.

When Sophie had gotten there with breakfast she had tried to listen in and interject here and there, but a raised eyebrow from both Hardison and Tori had her leaving the room. She hadn't made her presence known to them since. In fact, only Nathan tried to pull them from their tech-bonding so Tori could eat breakfast. He didn't care what Hardison did, but Tori was a guest and a child.

When that hadn't worked either, Nate had retreated back to the kitchen and they were left in peace until Parker and Chloe came through the door twenty minutes later. Chloe had walked straight to the stairs and Parker called out that she'd grab her something to eat while she made her way to the kitchen.

Tori's eyes had followed Chloe until she disappeared from her line of vision. Caught in a moment of indecision, she glanced from the top of the stairs to the televisions and back to the stairs again. Hardison smirked.

"Go on up and talk to her." He said leaning back in a stretch. "I'm gonna go grab something to eat anyway. This stuff'll be here later."

Tori nodded and stood from the couch. "Thanks." She headed on up the stairs and disappeared the same way the first girl had.

Hardison ran a hand over his face. He hoped they would finish their girly thing quickly. They were so close to breaking into the security database. Guests or not, Nate wouldn't hesitate to crack down on the hacker. Hardison wasn't sure if he wanted it done so he could help his friend Kit, or if he wanted all these people out of his apartment. He suspected it was a mix of both.

Well, I hope you liked it! Let me know what you think.

This is the absolute last time I am updating this story i this section. I will continue to update the original Forces Unite located in my profile. Thank you!