Commander Lucas paces in front of a group of five men dressed in all black with sniper rifles. He looks unkempt and a little unhinged judging by the way the others regard him. "Our sources tell us the entire group is at hospital," he informs his inferiors. "This is our chance gentlemen. They've been hit where it hurts and now we have to take advantage of it. If a character comes through the boss wants us to bring them in. Keep around the usual spots and get to them before our group of misfits beats you," he says with a crazy intense smile. They do their best to ignore it. "And if they do you have orders to take the character from them. You all had better not fail me." He pauses for dramatic effect. "You may use force, but try not to kill the girl. Not yet at least. Understood?"
The five salute, completely professional. "Sir, yes sir!"
"Good. Move out!" They head out the door while he falls back into his seat, taking a sip from a flask in his drawer. His subordinate Higgins watches from beside him, clearly very concerned at his behavior.
Meanwhile, Lori Fitzgerald looks at the time on her phone. She smiles at Kaity Klingbeil sleeping on her shoulder and does her best to climb out of the hospital bed without waking her. She is unsuccessful in that Kaity blinks awake and looks at her through bleary eyes.
She gives her tiny friend a smile. "Visiting hours are almost up." Kaity nods after a moment of processing. Lori takes a moment, debating about saying anything. "You know, there's enough time I could send Ben-"
"No," she shakes her head, vehement. "I don't want him to see me like this. I don't want anyone to ever see me like this," she adds, gesturing to the tubes and wires surrounding her.
Lori gives her a look. "Kaity, he's your boyfriend. Don't quote me on relationships-"
Kaity settles on the pillow, drifting off already. "He'll freak out. I don't need that from him or anyone."
"Just… think about it. I'm pretty sure he's worried whether he's out there or in here. I'll visit tomorrow if… stuff doesn't come up." Kaity nods slightly, understanding the true meaning. Lori sighs and tucks the hair from in front of her eye. "Get better." She walks out of the room and into the waiting room where everyone else is gathered: Ben Prescott, Charlie Prescott, Finch Hale, Hannah Frost, and Michael Harms. They all look up at the sight of her and she becomes uncomfortable.
Ben strides right up to her, forceful in his questioning. "How is she? What'd she say? Why won't she let me back there? Is everything alright? How does she look? Why will she let you back there?"
Michael steps between the two. "Prescott, let her breathe." He guides her over to a seat, while Ben sulks from where he's standing.
"She's doing alright," Lori tells everyone, avoiding Ben's gaze. "She's doing pretty well actually- anxious for her parents to get here but hopeful they won't take her home. As for me going back there- we know how she is," she appeals to them. Hannah nods at her, encouraging. "She doesn't want any of you to see her weak. She sees me as an authority figure so-"
"So she picks you over her boyfriend?" Ben says with some venom.
Lori's frustration boils over and she shoots up. "I didn't ask for her to pick me! I'm sorry it was me and not you!" She realizes she's in a hospital and tones herself down, but keeping the intensity. "You are not putting me between you and her. If you two have a relationship it is not going down like this. I refuse to be in the middle. I am doing what I can for her because it is all I can do and I would do anything for any of you. So you'll have to take that up with her." She sinks down and puts her head in her hands. Hannah wraps and arm around her.
Ben approaches carefully, clearly remorseful. "Lori-"
Ben just keeps going. "I'm sorry." She looks up and gives him a sad smile the he reciprocates. "You're right. I'm obviously freaking out a little. I finally admit how I feel and less than a week later she's in the hospital. It sucks, but it's not right to take it out on you." She reaches out to take his hand and gives it a comforting squeeze, everyone still on edge.
So follow me down
Lori stands with the glowing Disney Encyclopedia. She sighs and pulls out her phone.
Outta this town
Charlie examines his map and grabs his flashlight.
Girl, you're movin way
Hannah is typing away at her computer. So follow me down
So follow me down
Michael grabs his first aid backpack and throws it on his shoulders.
Down, down, down
Ben looks at his phone, adjusting his tie.
I'll show you around
Kaity is drawing pictures of the group absently in her dorm room.
There's a place we gotta go
Finch puts the two fingers to her temple and her eyes glaze over. Follow me, follow me
Follow me, follow me
Lori, Charlie, Hannah, Michael, Ben, Kaity, and Finch are running through the preserve, freezing once on each of their faces.
Fa la la la la
Follow me, follow me
Fa la la la la
Lori comes to a halt and the others crash into her, sending them all to the ground.
Lori Disney? (Not Likely!)
Episode Seven: Not Like You
Two days later, Michael and his girlfriend Jolene Dean are packing up after a study session in the lounge, their conversation having drifted to more personal topics. "I don't quite know what to make of that," Jolene questions. "She's making her boyfriend stay out in the waiting room?"
Michael shrugs. "Lores says she has her reasons," he explains. "Kaity's like that- wants to keep the world at bay when things look difficult. She never wants us to see her as weak."
"But she isn't. She's living and being functional in a life most of us couldn't imagine."
Michael finishes putting his books away and zips up his backpack. "Her parents are there now. Luckily it doesn't seem like they're going to pull her out of school once they've rested her. It's a big step forward that she allowed herself to be admitted to the hospital and they acknowledge that. They think school's doing her good."
Jolene smiles at him. "It is. Your group is. I'm very proud of you." She moves in close and confidently puts her arms around him. He tentatively does the same, hand settling awkwardly on her back. She smiles and kisses him for a moment before starting to deepen it. He instantly reels back in shock and uncomfortable. She does her best to put on a smile, kissing him on the cheek. "I'll see you later, Michael." She heads off and Michael sighs, heading back to his room. When he enters he sees Charlie putting on his coat.
"Did you get her text?" Michael looks at his phone and sees he has a message from Lori, shaking his head. "The book went off. She needs us." Without a word Michael goes to put his jacket on as well. "Why do you look so down, Doctor?" he inquires, clearly concerned about his friend.
"I'm not good at making out," he openly admits.
Charlie tries to bury his snort and be serious. "Well, at least Jolene is willing to practice. That's a good thing, right?"
Michael gives him a look, though he can't help smirking. "Never say that to a girl… ever."
"Noted. Sorry. It's a good thing I have so many friends around to teach me these things now," Charlie smiles as they head out the door together.
"I wouldn't use any of us for inspiration yet. I'll text her later about it though. I'm sure that won't be awkward."
Charlie elbows him. "Or you could text her while we walk and tell me what you're going to say." Michael raises an eyebrow at him. "It's not snooping! It's being your sounding board."
"You're cute, kid. Don't ever change."
A little while later, Lori is walking with Charlie and Finch through the preserve with her flashlight and the book under her arm.
Finch keeps a protective eye on their backs, two fingers to her temple. "I'm picking up no obvious traces of magic. If they're out here they're not doing anything too extreme."
"I'm okay with this one being simple," Lori admits, snapping a twig under her foot. "It's been a tough couple weeks."
Finch glances at her. "Are you referring to my being terminated or the break-up or your almost drowning?"
"Let's not walk down memory lane right now," Lori tells the program. They keep walking when suddenly Finch grabs her arm with a painful amount of force. "Ouch!"
Finch doesn't notice fingers to her temple and eyes trained in front of her. "Someone's here," she informs Lori in a whisper. "I'm detecting five people have entered the preserve and are following us." Lori nods, instantly on edge and clicking out her flashlight. The three sneak forwards and duck behind some trees cautiously, making use of the darkness to continue another way they don't often go.
"Do we have more than one?" Charlie whispers as he pulls out the map.
Lori shakes her head, making sure he is between her and Finch. "I don't know. Any Disney characters that would make sense to come in a group of five?"
"I can't think of-"
"Quiet," Finch tells them, eyes still trained where they came from. "They're trying to locate us." She pulls them behind a large tree and peeks around it to see the five men from before walking by and combing the area. She frowns. "DIZ."
Lori leans against the tree. "Perfect. This is just what my week was missing. This character had better be worth it."
Finch watches the group walk past. "I think we lost them. Quick, this way." They take off at a run through the trees in the other direction, everyone completely serious and in the moment. Lori and Charlie struggle to keep up with her inhuman pace and he is consulting his map as they go.
"This is towards the library tree." Lori nods and they keep running, Finch drifting behind them to cover their backs. Lori collides with someone and is sent rolling through the grass. Charlie runs to her and Finch is instantly in front of them, ready to take down the other figure on the ground at any sudden movement.
Lori peeks around her leg and a frown appears. "She's fine. She's one of the good guys." She rises with Charlie's help and they come beside Finch as Pocahontas rises to face them- hair naturally blowing in the nonexistent breeze. Lori does not look amused. "Among the most boring ones, but beggars can't be choosers."
Pocahontas regards their familiarity with hesitation, squinting at them. "Excuse me, but do I know you?"
"Ah, your magically learned English is intact," Lori notes, shifting the book from under her arm. "We must be after your film. The name is Lori Fitzgerald and I am here to help you get home."
She nods, but looks around curiously. "Where exactly am I? I do not recognize this wood."
Lori pats her on the arm. "Oh Pocahontas, I'd say you're a little west of where you live."
Charlie drapes an extra jacket from his bag around her. "And a little over two hundred years, give or take."
She regards them again in the dim light. "Are you more settlers like John Smith? Have you come-"
"No. We live here. You're the one who found us." Pocahontas doesn't react to this and Lori throws her hands up in frustration. "It's like talking to a piece of Wonder Bread, I swear. All she's good for is butchering history and standing on mountains."
Finch frowns at this. "Wait, my geography class informs my knowledge that coastal Virginia does not have what you are describing."
"You all speak in such strange tongues," Pocahontas says as she stares at them. "I must return to my father. We have stopped the fight but I worry more is to come. Are you sure you can take me there?"
Charlie smiles. "We will. I promise." They hear a click and turn to see the five men have flanked them and now have their guns pointed at them.
Lori and Charlie put their hands up, her giving Finch a look. "Where were you on this one?"
"I was distracted by our conversation," Finch apologizes. "It has become harder to multi-task since-"
The man who appears to be leading cuts in. "Ms. Fitzgerald, Pocahontas will be coming with us."
Lori steps slightly so she is in front of Charlie. "I'm afraid I can't let you do that. You see, she's my responsibility."
"They have weapons like the others," Pocahontas observes. "Are these the settlers? Are your people at the brink of war as well?"
Lori glares at her. "Hush. Now."
The first man chuckles. "It looks like you aren't much of a fan anyway."
Lori smiles at him. "It's a movie with a lot of issues and a bland protagonist. It ended a golden age of animation from what Hannah's told me when I half pretend I'm listening but because I do care I really take it all in though I pretend not to," she rambles.
The man points the gun at her head, frowning. "You're not going to stall us if you keep talking. We won't hesitate. Would you really risk your best friend? With five of us, one is bound to get him."
Lori tenses a little, but doesn't drop the smile. "I've actually taken up enough of your time. We could get out of this situation from the very beginning, you see. Have a nice day gentlemen." She nods and Finch expertly leaps into the air, knocking the guns away and taking out the men before they know what's happening.
Lori grabs a startles Pocahontas and they take off, Charlie leading. The men recover a bit and attempt shooting Finch, but the bullets go right through her. "Tell Commander Intense and Crazy I said hi!" Lori shouts back as Finch head-butts the leader and easily catches up to the group.
"Come on!" one of the five shouts, shooting as the group pulls together to chase them.
Lori and the group manage to get behind a tree to avoid the bullets. "What do they want? Are they after your riches as well?" Pocahontas asks as they keep running as fast as they can.
Lori rolls her eyes. "We're being shot at and you can't even go above a monotone?! How did they expect you to hold up a whole movie?!" They swerve abruptly at Charlie's lead, all skidding in the dirt, and run through some more trees. Finch looks back.
"We've lost visual." Charlie stops in front of the familiar tree with an ivy-covered ladder in place. Lori starts up it instantly.
"Come on!" The others follow and crouch in some of the higher branches. "Finch, I need you to chuck that ladder as far away from here as possible." Finch nods, easily lifting it and tossing it a great distance into the trees. "Get higher so they can't see us." They climb to the very top so the branches hide them and huddle silently as the five come running in. Everyone holds their breath as they look around and comb the area for a long minute.
Finally, they head off and everyone lets out a deep breath. "How long are we going to stay up here?" Charlie inquires, uncomfortable.
"As long as it takes for them to get very far away," Lori decides. "Then we'll make a run for it. They can't do anything to us legally in the dorms."
"Well, something tells me they aren't playing by the rules," Charlie says, obviously pretty shaken up.
"Don't worry." She ruffles his hair. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
He looks up at her. "It's not me I'm worried about." He pulls out his phone. "I'll-"
Finch grabs it from him. "No technology." She shuts it off. Lori does the same with hers. "We know they've used it to track us before." She instantly regrets her actions. "I'm sorry. That was harsh."
Lori puts a hand on her shoulder. "No. You're just doing what you need to do. Thank you Finch. We've would've been in a really tight spot back there without you." She looks out over the preserve. "Now we wait." The winds once again swirl about Pocahontas dramatically as she poses next to them. Lori just shakes her head at this.
The next morning, Ben pulls up to the curb still very much in a foul mood. A minute later Kaity exits the hospital and happily climbs in.
She is clearly happy to see him, giving him a kiss on the cheek before he starts off. "Thanks for picking me up. My parents are staying at a hotel until the weekend just to keep an eye on me," she says, not cluing in to his mood. "They gave me plenty of fluids, rest, and some medication to hopefully prevent anymore hallucinations." There is a long pause and she starts to notice something's up. "Lori texted me we have a character."
"I wouldn't know. I was here the whole time… in the waiting room," he says bitterly. There is then an even longer pause as her good mood vanishes and she crosses her arms. (Long pause)
"Okay, mind reading isn't one of my superpowers," she tells him. "You're going to have to communicate with me like a normal human being."
Ben snorts in disbelief. "Really? You're going to give me attitude when I just spent two days outside your hospital room wondering if you are okay?"
"You didn't have to-"
"I'm aware of that," he cuts in. "But I'm your boyfriend. This means I do things like that. It also means I should be let in the room instead of Lori," he adds, airing his real issue.
Kaity leans back, closing her eyes. "I knew it. I knew you'd freak out."
Ben takes her reaction very poorly and becomes worked up. "And not seeing you helped that?! You were sick-"
"Yes. I am, Ben. I have bipolar disorder which means that getting involved with me means this sort of life," she counters. "I knew you weren't ready for it-"
"You didn't even give me a chance!" he shouts.
She rises up to meet his anger. "I can already tell! You said you took this into account and it didn't matter, but those are lies. And it's okay because you didn't know it at the time," she tries comforting. "My parents and my siblings didn't either. I understand, but you cannot throw a temper tantrum every time I end up in the hospital to attempt to make your life easier when you're not the one with the disorder. We're different. End of story."
They pause, but Ben cannot leave it at that and let her win. "Well, there's such a thing as setting someone up for failure. I might've surprised you."
"No one ever does," she says coldly as they turn into campus.
He glances at her, anger drying up into disappointment. "Kaity, I'm honestly at a bit of a loss here. Trust is one of the most essential pieces of a relationship and we clearly don't have that," he begins patiently.
Kaity can see where this is going instantly. "Wow, already? And the day I get out of the hospital too?"
"Maybe its better that it's now instead of somewhere down the line when things get really complicated." They pull up into a parking spot and stop. He looks resigned, but she just looks furious.
"No. This isn't what this is. This is you being scared because you can't handle it," she calls him out ferociously, poking his chest. "You convinced yourself that I would be like dating anyone else, didn't you? And now reality is blinking a neon sign straight in your face saying I'm different. And you make it look like you're being chivalrous? You're a goddamn coward, Benjamin Prescott."
He just looks at her, lost. "Kaity…"
"Say it," she growls.
She jabs her finger into him again. "Tell me what I have." He just shakes his head. "Tell me. Tell me!" she shouts, slamming her hand on the dashboard. He flinches but refuses to answer. "Screw you," she says finally. "Consider us done." She exits the car, leaving him there, and takes off running. As she heads for the dorm she nearly crashes into Hannah who greets her with a wide smile and balloon.
"Kaity, I was just going to meet you. It's good to see you on your- what's wrong?" she says, seeing the tears forming.
"I think I just lost my first boyfriend." She starts crying, hands going to her temple desperately. "My mind can't handle this kind of stress straight out of the hospital. It can't. I don't want to go back."
Hannah comforts her with a hand on her arm and a soothing tone. "Hey. It's alright. Come on over and we'll have some of Lori's emergency ice cream." She starts guiding her back, hand on her shoulder blade. "It's going to be okay. Just breathe for me." Kaity lets out a sob into her sleeve and Hannah curses skyward. "Ben."
About an hour later, Ben is lying on his bed while Michael paces in front of him, eyes glued to his phone. "So we got a text around ten saying they had the character but ran into some issues," Michael relays. "We've haven't heard or seen them since."
He sees Ben is wallowing and not paying attention. "Prescott!" He looks up and Michael shakes his head. "I know things suck for you right now, but your step-brother and our friends are-"At that moment Lori comes running in with Charlie, Finch, and Pocahontas. All of them look very disheveled and out of sorts. Michael blinks to register, "- right here. What happened? We've been-"
Lori catches her breath. "Commander Intense and Crazy sent the Goon Squad after us. They tried to take her," she adds, pointing to Pocahontas who is regarding the room with curiosity.
Ben smiles at her fondly, hopping down from the bed. "Pocahontas. She was always one of my favorites."
Lori gives him a look. "She would be for you, Tie Boy."
"Someone's testy," he notes.
She stares him down. "I just spent all night in a tree like Katniss Everdeen after being shot at by the Career's. I'm not Mary Poppins right now." Ben just stares blankly at her, not getting the reference, and her jaw drops. "It's been like four years. Read a book sometime, Ben."
Finch steps in to gain control over the situation. "We found enough time to run here but we fear they are onto us and will come to this place."
"They actually shot at us," Charlie adds, earning a raised eyebrow from Michael and Ben.
Michael turns to Lori, folding his arms. "What's the plan?"
"The usual, but on a much more time conscientious schedule," Lori informs him. "Who has the problem she needs to fix?"
"The Doctor doesn't know how to make-out," Charlie offers, making him turn red.
Michael adds something of his own. "Well, Ben and Kaity broke up because she doesn't trust him and he doesn't understand her."
Lori nods, clapping her hands. "Okay, sorry about the make-out thing but I think we have a winner." She turns to Ben. "Okay then, you stay here with Pocahontas and learn something. Finch you stay with him and protect her."
Lori turns to look at her, clearly not messing around. "Affirmative. They don't want me. They want her. Right now she is more important. The three of us will run distraction and keep them running around the place. Let us know if you think you've hit a breakthrough."
"Will the three of you will be alright?" Ben questions. "They've got guns."
"We've got a whole campus we know the ins and outs of. They'll have to be stealthy as long as we stick around here," Lori offers to comfort him. "I think we can at least keep them on a wild goose chase for a few hours."
Charlie takes her arm. "We'll be fine. Lori won't let anything happen to us."
Ben looks at him a long moment before reluctantly nodding. "Good luck."
She salutes him. "You too. Let's move out. We'll start with a little ring-around-the-science-center. I'm sure they'll have fun playing in construction." The trio confidently high fives each other and takes off at a run across campus towards the science building. Lori smirks to herself. "Good thing I took up jogging."
Kaity sits with Hannah on her bed, both eating from a carton of Rocky Road ice cream. "I mean it's just exactly what I expected," Kaity concludes.
Hannah takes a bite, lost in thought. "I almost wonder if that's the problem." Kaity groans, so she puts her spoon up. "Hear me out. Kaity, you're used to people letting you down and so you expect it. That's why you're so attached to Lori, because she is the one person who has stood in your corner despite all your crap. But you expect Ben to let you down and so you're trying to keep yourself from getting hurt before he's even had a chance."
"It sounds like you're siding with him."
"My thoughts are you both had a part to play in this fight," Hannah tells it to her straight. "Kaity, you doubted you could change your stars. This isn't going to work unless you take a leap of faith." Her phone vibrates and she answers with disgust. "Ben." She listens and her expression softens to become worried. "Seriously? They did what?! I'm on it." She hangs up and rises. "Lori is currently running around distracting five people with guns while Ben hangs out with Pocahontas. You stay here while I-"
Kaity stands as well. "No coddling," she says sharply. "I'm going to. We can serve as secondary distraction." She thinks of something and smiles. "I even have an idea if we swing by the theatre."
"You're sure you're up for this?" Kaity just looks at her, arms crossed. "Let's go." The two head out in a rush.
Lori, Charlie, and Michael are sprinting through the main hallway of the science center with no abandon, though they are starting to look a little tired. They enter the stairwell. "Up or down?" Lori inquires.
"They're still down so we might want to go up," Michael offers.
"Or they're on their way up and down would really throw them off," Charlie also says. "Plus, it's faster for us." Lori peeks back and sees the door all the way at the other end of the hallway open. She then jumps down the middle of the stairwell to land quickly at the bottom floor.
"Down it is then." Michael and Charlie follow with the group starting down another hallway, expertly dodging construction around them. She sees them tiring a bit and high fives them like before. "Come on guys. We're doing great." They keep running as the five men enter the stairway but halt.
One man steps forward to the leader. "We've got word of her roommate running around the art building with a girl with black hair."
The leader nods, getting frustrated at these antics. "Three of you go. The other one stays with me on them." They nod and split from one another, continuing the chase.
Ben leans on his desk across from Pocahontas who is merely playing with his flashlight on the bed, amazed and a little scared. He notices Finch is posted by the window, fingers to her temple intensely.
Ben goes over and puts a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sure they're fine."
She shakes her head. "That doesn't stop me from worrying. Are you mentally reviewing the lesson you should learn to help her?"
Ben frowns, frustrated. "There's nothing to review. There is no lesson. I lost the girlfriend I had for less than a week." He then steps away from her dramatically. "I just wonder when all of this is going to end," he admits.
Pocahontas rises to stand before him. "It ends when someone has the courage to stand up and stop fighting." Ben merely rolls her eyes as his dramatics, but Finch seems to be reflecting on this.
Lori, Charlie, and Michael sprint behind the café, obviously on some of their last steam. They grind to a sudden and abrupt skidding halt as they nearly crash into a running Hannah along with Kaity in a black wig.
Everyone is panting, making speech very disjointed. "Hannah? What're you-?"
"Same thing you are," she answers, pointing behind her. "We've got three of them on our tails."
"So that's where they went," Michael nods. "The wig is clever."
Kaity bounces it playfully. "My idea. It was the closest I could find to what she looks like."
"Good to see you back on your feet," Lori tells her. "I knew you'd take no time off." Kaity beams at this.
Michael is a little more concerned. "You're-"
She gives him a look. "Fine Doctor. We should really get running again." Lori nods and the two groups start in opposite directions, Kaity and Hannah starting over the bridge back towards campus.
"Hannah?" Her arm is grabbed and she looks to see it is Brett Edwardson.
Hannah loudly groans. "Listen, I really do not-"
"No," he puts his foot down, earning her attention. "You keep running away, but not this time. Why is Kaity in a wig?" he can't help but derail.
Kaity shrugs. "Why aren't you in a wig?" He just stares. "School project. Make it fast," she whispers to Hannah.
Hannah shakes her head and pulls her arm free. "No time necessary," she says coldly. "Let's go." They turn and start walking, unaware the three men have taken places in the trees around and under the bridge.
Brett can't hold it in and calls after her. "I'm sorry."
This makes her stop and face him, a little in shock. "What did you say?"
"I'm so sorry for what I did to you," he tells her sincerely, closing the gap. "You were in a very vulnerable place after Kenny and I showed no respect to that effect. I had no idea how much my rejection hurt you, but I would never want to cause you that much pain." She just stares at him and he goes to put a hand on her arm but stops. She then notices one of the men aiming his sniper rifle at the group. "I'm just- I'm afraid I've had few examples on how to conduct myself around girls, especially someone as-"
"Get down!" she shouts, dropping to the ground. Surprisingly, he is instantly down beside her without hesitation. Kaity does the same and keep an eye on the man as he retreats at his blown cover.
"What's wrong?" Brett asks. "What's the matter?"
She notices how close they are. "Hide-and-seek with Lori," she explains in a whisper. "We almost blew our cover."
He nods, not getting it but trying his best not to show it. "Okay. You guys have some strange hobbies, but-"
"You just- you didn't even hesitate," Hannah questions. "I said-"
He smiles, moving a little closer. "Despite what I've done to hurt you, I fear you do not have the same capacity for cruelty. I trust you." She just stares at him and he reaches a hand towards her hair. "Hannah-"She abruptly clears her head and rises.
"It's too late," she reminds him, voice hard again. "You blew it."
He stands as well, rebuffed but taking it with dignity. "I know. I don't think we would have worked any way, but I hope you know and realize that you are smart and beautiful," he assures her. "No one could possibly think otherwise, even if they are the tool who breaks your heart."
She can't help but smirk briefly. "Apology accepted."
He smiles his first real smile. "I'm glad. I'll get out of your life now. Enjoy your game." He starts off towards the café as Hannah and Kaity watch him go. Hannah smiles with the air of someone who has found peace within herself finally.
"That was a hell of an apology," Kaity finally says.
"It didn't disappoint," Hannah admits honestly. "Come on. They're watching us." They take off running towards the classroom buildings.
Kaity stares at Hannah a bit before speaking. "I don't trust people enough," she admits, more to herself. "I could never do what he just did. And that's- that's why I didn't fight him harder. I thought-"
"Kaity, I understand why you have walls. But now you have Ben Prescott. Live up to your advice," Hannah challenges her friend. "Change your stars. If it's mean to work it will. Relationships have enough difficulties without open sabotage."
"I don't want him to think of me as weak," she adds. "I don't want him to become like everyone else."
"First off, no one here think of you as weak. None of us, so forget that notion. But I see the way he looks at you. He thinks you're a superhero. And you want someone who looks at you like that. Take it from a romantic."
Kaity nods, clearly reflective on what she has just said. "I will. Thank you."
Lori, Charlie, and Michael are running through the gym as the sun sinks behind them through one of the windows. It's clearly been a long day and the group is practically running on empty. "I don't know how much longer I've got in me," Michael admits.
"Just a little more time," Lori pleads. "We can do this." They high-five and head out the doors at a breakneck pace. Suddenly, a shot is fired and Lori falls to the ground down the stairs in pain. She lands right in front of a smiling Commander Lucas holding a smoking gun. She sees he had shot her in the leg and cries out in pain.
"Lori!" Charlie shouts, but she throws them the book before Lucas can grab it.
"Go!" she shouts at them. "Go!" They manage to take off into the gym before Lucas can shoot again. She clutches her leg, only to be roughly pulled up by Lucas. The two men trailing her come up next to him, in shock over her condition. "Fancy seeing you again," she says, teeth gritted.
"Cut the act," Lucas gives her a violent shake. "Where is she?" She stares at him defiantly so he shoves his finger into her wound, making her cry out in agony before dumping her harshly on the pavement. "Bring her in." One of the men throws her struggling over his back and they start to walk off. Charlie and Michael watch from one of the gym windows.
"What do we do?" Charlie asks, desperate. "They mean business."
"Get the others," Michael concludes. "We're out of time. Finch needs to heal her."
Finch is still by the window as Ben listens absently to Pocahontas. "And so every day I go and wait for the day his ship will come back."
Be scowls. "News flash: it's not."
Finch pulls him aside roughly, disappointed. "Ben, I do believe Lori Fitzgerald has a policy on what she terms to be spoilers about the character's future." He just sighs and she crosses her arms, enough being enough. "Benjamin Prescott, I believe you are showing what our friends would term and attitude."
She looks at him over the rim of her glasses. "Benjamin Prescott, I realize you are upset because you believe your relationship with Kaitlyn Klingbeil has ended. But that does to mean we jeopardize other aspects of our life."
"We keep going, following the river wherever it takes us." Ben looks at Pocahontas, who is regarding him coldly. "Yes, I understood. You think our differences are insurmountable, but I do not see it that way."
"No," he answers, still cold and bitter. "I get what you're trying to do and teach, but I'm having none of it. Sometimes it just doesn't work."
She walks up to him and puts a hand on his chest. "Where is your heart pointing you?"
He pulls back. "Excuse me?"
"If your heart were a spinning needle which way would it point?"
He runs a hand through his hair, knowing what he's about to say. "It'd point towards Kaity."
"Because you love her and one fight does not change that fact," Finch says logically, applying everything she has learned from him. "Benjamin Prescott, she does indeed have bipolar disorder and it scared you. But you love her and you fight for the things you love. Otherwise they were never worth it to begin with."
Pocahontas nods, agreeing. "Different sides can see eye to eye. All it takes is communication." As Ben is about say something Charlie and Michael come running in.
"We need to move now," Michael tells them. "They took Lori."
The group is instantly on edge and ready to go, Finch clearly guilty already. "What? This is my fault. I should-"
"You did your job," Charlie tells her. "We had a small hiccup no one could have seen. Commander Intense and Crazy has indeed gone crazy." They start down the hallway and come upon Hannah and Kaity.
Hannah reads their expression. "What's wrong?"
"They took Lori," Michael explains. "They shot her in the leg and took her."
Pocahontas steps in front of everyone, posing dramatically. "We must stop this fighting. This war must end before anyone else gets hurt."
"Let's go," Finch responds, leading them out the door. Kaity deposits the wig in the trash but Ben grabs her arm before she can leave.
He looks deep into her eyes, apologetic. "Kaity-"
She shakes her head. "Later," she promises. He nods and they follow after the others.
Lori is seated across from a very smug Commander Lucas and a worried Higgins, hands bound in front of her. She is clearly in agony, but trying to hold it together. "So this is the new plan? You aren't winning any favors by shooting me, I can tell you that much."
Lucas gives her a shove and she nearly falls out of the chair. He is completely unhinged. "I don't think you're in a place for attitude right now. You're bleeding out and in desperate need of some medical care."
Lori shrugs, trying to appear nonchalant. "I've been through a lot worse."
"Just tell me where she is," he growls, slamming his hand on the desk. Higgins stands still, but is clearly not liking this situation.
"What's the plan, Lucas?" Lori says, knowing she still has the upper hand. "Take her away and I hope I just hand the book to you? There is no scenario in which you win this. The book is mine."
He throws a trash bin at the wall. "You stole it! I was meant for the mission! I was to control the power!"
"Trust me, I'd rather you be stuck with the thing." Lori pauses, and then shakes her head at her last statement. "Actually, that's a lie. That book has screwed me over in so many ways but I'm glad me owning it kept it out of your hands. And even if you do let me bleed out it's never going to be yours. It didn't pick you the first time, and it won't pick you the second."
He actually shoves the chair over, sending her to the ground. "The book isn't alive, Lori. It doesn't pick anything."
Higgins officially steps in at this point, helping her up. She glares at Lucas. "Then how did it end up with someone like me rather than someone like you? I think we both know what's really going on here. I don't want your help, so I think it's about time you moved on. Perhaps a lesson on finding a new dream. You have nothing left you can say to me. You lost and that is what this desperate attempt to stop me is about." He shoves Higgins aside and begins to choke her.
"Sir, this isn't-"
At that moment the leader of the five enters. "Sir, her friends just approached the building." Pocahontas it with them."
"Excellent," he snarls, letting her go to fall to the floor. "How about we make a trade?" He drags her up and forces her to walk out of the building, Higgins following hesitant. Outside the building her Companions have gathered with Pocahontas. "Well, look who showed up."
Pocahontas bravely steps forward. "I am prepared to make a trade. I will go with you if you release their friend."
"Isn't she noble? I think that can be arranged." He shoves Lori forward down the stairs and she lies on the wet ground unable to move. She tries struggling as Pocahontas walks past her.
"No! You can't!" Lori shouts at her.
"Lori," Michael grabs her attention. "Trust us, you need the medical attention. This will be over in a minute." She nods, understanding. But then everything falls apart as Finch sees Commander Lucas reach for a boot.
She runs up and manages to reach him just as he points it at Pocahontas's head. "Watch out!" She kicks the gun just as he fires and everyone drops down, Kaity practically tackling Ben to the ground with a cry. Luckily, the bullet manages to go over all their heads and hit a flagpole behind them. Finch wastes no time in ripping the gun from his hands and snapping it in half.
Lori turns to face Lucas in pure shock, understanding. "It wasn't just capture the character. It was kill the character. That would stop the book from working." She notices all his inferiors clearly on edge and in disagreement and can't help but smile. "There's just one problem with that."
"Sir, those weren't our orders," Higgins argues. "The boss would never-"
"I was doing what I had to!" Lucas bellows.
Higgins boldly walks past him down the stairs, gently picking Lori up and cutting the rope that bind her hands. "I'm so sorry, Ms. Fitzgerald," he whispers to her gently. "You've gone too far," he tells his commanding officer with derision. "I'm going to have to report this immediately. You've become unhinged." Michael comes up and he gently deposits her into his arms. Lucas grabs another gun and points it right at his right-hand man.
"I'll kill you before you do that."
"And I'll go missing just like everyone else. You can't hide behind your gun this time. We've lost too many from you botching this entire thing!" He nods and Lucas turns to see that every man with a gun has one pointed at him. He puts his down and Higgins walks back up to handcuff him harshly.
"Take Lori and get out of here," he tells the group. "I have a mess to clean up." The group starts heading off. "This doesn't mean we're done with you though, Ms. Fitzgerald."
Lori smirks and calls over Michael's shoulder. "I'd be disappointed if you were. We have so much fun when we get together." They start towards the dorms. "Hand me the book."
Charlie pulls it out nervously. "Now?"
"I think it's best to send her home before we have any more hijinks. Her blandness has caused enough trouble." She opens it to a glowing poem.
"You are guiding me home," Pocahontas nods.
"Thanks for your time. It's been a delight," Lori offers, voice not even attempting to cover up how untrue she finds it.
"The same is true for me as well."
Lori rolls her eyes and turns her attention to the book. "We all must pay a price To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing" She vanishes in a burst of light. "Well, I'm officially exhausted."
Finch walks up to her. "Allow me to help with that." She holds her hand over Lori's leg, but nothing happens. "It's-it's not working. I should be healing you." She tries again but is unsuccessful.
Hannah gently puts a hand on her shoulder. "Finch, you did lose some functionality when we terminated you. What if-?"
"Negative. I must be able to help Lori Fitzgerald. I cannot fail her."
"You didn't fail me," Lori tells her gently. "You saved a lot of lives back there. It'll heal up the old fashioned way. It's fine. I'm fine. Something tells me we just solved a conflict between us and DIZ for a while. And it ended with no one getting hurt."
Hannah blinks. "Lori, you got shot."
Lori shrugs. "I don't count. And 'tis merely a flesh wound." She smiles up at Michael. "Thanks for the carry, by the way. I know you're pretty tried too."
"Anytime Lores." She puts her head against his shoulder exhausted and drifting off, but he realizes something. "I'll need sneak into the training room and grabs some crutches." He hands her off to Ben and starts the other way. "I'll meet you back there."
Kaity and Ben are sitting an awkward distance on the couch in the living area of Lori and Hannah's dorm room. Charlie and Hannah are talking to one another nearby while Finch stares off absently.
He plays with his tie, clearing his throat as he finally speaks up. "What you did back there- you nearly took a bullet-"
She shrugs. "It was no big deal. I knew I'd be safe. With you I'm safe," she admits, turning to face him. "And I'm sorry because I was scared. So I did and said things-"
"Kaity, you were right," Ben cuts in. "I wasn't prepared to handle it. I was in this honeymoon phase that everything would be just fine. But you… you have bipolar disorder and I have to realize that." She kisses him as soon as he says it.
"Please don't screw up again," she asks him in a whisper. "I don't want to have to break up with you again."
He smiles. "Only if you promise the same thing." They kiss again. "We're going to be fine. This only made us stronger."
She nods, smiling. "I know." Everyone turns their attention to Michael as he exits, yawning.
"I was able to get the bullet out. She'll need the crutches for few weeks, but hopefully recover just fine. She already passed out from how tired she was."
Charlie stretches and yawns. "I guess we should head back-"
Hannah shakes her head. "Listen, we've all had a long day. Let me grab the sleeping bags and we can all sleep to noon tomorrow. It is Sunday after all."
Michael smiles and everyone nods. "Amen." They all grab the sleeping bags and sprawl out on the floor of the bedroom, Hannah climbing into her bed. Everyone drifts off immediately as Finch just stares up at the celling, smiling as she sees Kaity and Ben hold hands.
Charlie climbs up to his usual spot on Lori's bed which despite his efforts causes her to stir. She sees everyone lying about and smiles at Charlie as he curls up on the other side of her. "We've got each other."
"Indeed we do." She lies down again and within ten minutes everyone but Finch is sound asleep, snores and breathing intermingling.
Higgins finishes tying Lucas to the chair with a final harsh knot. He turns to an assistant next to him. "This ought to hold him until we can have him collected."
The assistant nods. "You realize this puts you in charge of the operation, sir."
"It is something I will not take lightly."
"What's the plan of action then?"
"Give her some space. We've pushed her too far and now we need to make up for that. His issue is that he wasn't patient enough. We need to play the exact opposite game. And then I might have an idea or two." The assistant drags Lucas out of the room and Higgins takes his new seat with a smile.
Tune in next week as Lori puts together a special day for Charlie, Ben and Kaity dance around the idea of their first date, and Michael has someone he wants a reluctant Hannah to meet.