So yeah. Post 2.06 "The Left Hand," like... right post. None of this is mine.

Topher hasn't even touched his trampoline in days. His video games are deserted. If he'd sugar-binged, it would seem like an epic crash, but. Well, his snack stash is barely depleted either. (Okay, so he's been sucking on juice boxes like they're being discontinued and the noise of it's just about driving everyone to distraction, but very little is actually getting munched.)

Ivy has no idea what's gotten into him, well, she knows a teensy bit of what happened in D.C. but not nearly the actual painful parts, and she's been doing more of the imprints while he sulks and messes around with anything not involving people. Maybe he sort of wouldn't mind a blank, guileless smile from a Doll. A minute or two of their innocent good-by-default mood might do him good. But a) he doesn't really feel worthy of even that quasi-affection, b) they'd just tell him he's not his best after a moment and he doesn't want to deal with that, and c) he doesn't want to be around anyone too long. Even Dolls. And they come with handlers, too, which just… no.

And he doesn't even have a healthy outlet for his snark now that Paul's off tracking Echo. He may whine at Ivy a little (okay, a lot) but he has a hard time bringing himself to snark at her too much. Adelle's got her own problems and he sort of just can't even deal with it. Mostly, he's just resorting to a lot of annoyed self-deprecation.

To say that he hates himself for what he did is a massive understatement. He hopes it was the right thing to do, that his attempts at keeping Echo not-dead are still present-tense effective. But hope's only a teensy consolation.

There's probably a bruise on that pretty face. And it's his fault. Sure, Bennett may have been up to something less than good (actually pretty nefarious, which is way less sexy IRL) but that was an itty-bitty blip on her radar of awesome. Or it should have been. Now he'd made it a giant, unforgivable mess. He so hadn't imagined his fist being the first thing to really come in contact with her face.

He could have been the bigger man and e-mailed her or something. Tried to apologize even knowing it was futile. But he was totally chicken. He understood if she'd never want to speak to him again. More than understood. He sort of hated himself, probably as much as she hated him now. Which he hadn't wanted. In a way, he totally missed the fantasy Bennett, even though she wasn't hardly as pretty or as awesome 'cause he couldn't have made that up and she wasn't, y'know, 100% positively a girl or anything. But he hadn't let the fantasy down, and that had to count for something.

Bennett would really have preferred if the whole incident had been kept private. He had his occasionally frustrating qualities, but Mr. Lipman, had he been the one to find her, would have been discrete. Grace simply couldn't leave well enough alone, though; while the house doctor checks her (unnecessarily) for fractures and ices her swollen cheek, her assistant is snooping on the security feed and rewinding to the moment of impact. Within half a day, the handlers are making all sorts of jokes, some better than others ("so the LA kid was a real knockout, huh" is the worst of them; Artemis' handler is downright inane) and her pride is more bruised than her face. She wishes she could just be alone.

(Well. She can certainly be alone for a large portion of the day, all things considered. But she'd be happy not to see anyone else at all until their idiotic urges to gossip like twelve-year-olds have subsided.)

She feels foolish, and that's a feeling that doesn't sit well with her. She was taken in by a goofy smile and pretty eyes and an interest in what she was saying and… well, taken in, period. Bennett does not like being gullible, and she was. She's disgusted with herself.

Topher had just been too good to be true, plain and simple. She really should have figured that out. Anyone who seemed worthwhile usually was. He was being just too nice to her, and nobody that nice was genuine. They were always, always going to leave you hurt. She hated herself for letting that happen. For being such a sucker.

More than that, she hated that she still thought about him. She hated that as she wrapped a washcloth around the icepack and laid it against her face, the only thing on her mind was how she wished he'd maybe kissed her instead. Certainly before he'd taken his alleged moral high ground she'd been. Well. Smiling stupidly. Naïve. Thinking about kissing sorts of things.

Sure, she was stupid now, too. Maybe more so. She was holding onto the before of him, the Topher that she couldn't resist. She wasn't one for fantasy, but she did tempt herself with the fantasy of that.