Steel walked through the corridors, the heels of his shoes making the walls echo until a normal being would be driven mad by the sound. Thankfully there were no normal beings within range, just Steel and the echoes. He felt so at loose ends these days. Their last assignment hadn't helped.
Stripped of their powers, their employer left them as humans to survive. They'd last just a little over twelve hours, by his reckoning. Yet, in those twelve hours, Steel felt more alive than he had in years. It was as if he had been in a coma and suddenly woke. Certainly, he didn't want to be human, nor did he want to lose what he'd gained.
He stopped in front of an unmarked door and it slid open. There was a young woman sitting and staring straight ahead, as if terrified of permitting her attention to shift from the spot she'd fixed upon.
Sit down, Steel, and we will begin.
Where's Sapphire and who is she?
She is your new partner, Garnet.
What? He stared at the woman now, sitting so still and obviously terrified. Why isn't Sapphire here?
Her talents are needed here.
"No." Steel turned and started to walk from the room. The air crackled with electricity. They weren't used to being refused. Yet Steel knew in his heart that They could not stop him. They had re-forged him, made him stronger, more resourceful than ever before, but he needed Sapphire to keep him grounded. She, too, had received an upgrade in very much the same fashion he did. They were a team. They were forever.
They didn't try to stop him as he walked from the room. They could assign someone else to the new agent. He wasn't leaving without Sapphire.
Sapphire looked up a full five seconds before Steel walked into the room. She couldn't read his mind, but she could easily sense his agitation and annoyance. They rolled off him in waves.
She was lying on the bed, a book in her hand. This was such a long and tedious process to obtain information. The other way was much simpler.
"Sapphire, I've been looking for you everywhere. Why didn't you answer me?" He sat down beside her and frowned. "What is that?"
"It's a book, Steel."
"I know it's a book, Sapphire. Why are you reading it?"
"I was told to and unlike some people in this room, I still listen to my bosses."
Steel snorted and got back to his feet, pacing the length of the small room and then back. "They want to send me out with a new agent."
"Back to school then. I remember our first assignment. I was very nearly too frightened to breathe."
"Yet you stood up to me and forced me to listen to reason, your reason." He smiled in remembrance. "It ended up being a very good thing."
"They knew that together we are stronger than as individuals." She reached out to him and he took her hand. "Be kind to her, Steel, not the way you were with me, at least not until you know whether or not she will bend. Who is she?"
"Garnet. Your hand feels different." Steel studied her intently. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, at least not that I'm aware of. I requested a temporary leave of absence and it was granted."
"For how long?"
"A few months, no more." She squeezed his hand and smiled. "I will be fine and you will be in even more trouble if you don't get back to the Assignment Room."
Steel leaned forward and kissed her brow tenderly. "I will be back to discuss this further with you."
She watched him walk from the room, no longer angry, but still confused. In time They would tell him, just as They had told her and asked for a decision.
Sapphire leaned back against the propped up pillows and picked up the book again. Like Garnet, she was back in school and she had a lot of ground to cover in a relatively short amount of time. She cleared her throat and began to read out loud, "Chapter Three – morning sickness…"