Chapter 98

               “…and when I woke up, she was gone. I looked all over for her, searched as hard as a homeless Powered with no money or Internet could, but eventually I had to leave that town too. I never knew if she was hurt, or killed, or just didn’t want to be there when I woke up. Seeing her at the club that night… I guess I should have been a little angrier, since it was obvious that she bailed on me. I was just too overjoyed to feel upset.”

                Vince wiped his eyes with some tissues; they’d spilled over once or twice during his story yet he continued to push through and tell it. Now that it was done, he felt more settled. The wildfire that had been burning through his veins at last began to flicker out.

                “That is quite an experience,” Dr. Moran said. “Sixteen, your first love, first sexual partner, and then to lose her so soon after your father left your life; it’s no surprise this left such an impression on you.”

                “I sort of feel like Thie-… Eliza, has been haunting me. When I was with Sasha, I kept drifting off and thinking about her. I’ve avoided any new relationships until I could get that under control, but I never expected to actually see her again.”

                “It is funny how people come back to us in the most unexpected ways.” Dr. Moran paused, considering how much she should say to Vince in his fragile state. Generally it was best to let patients come to their own conclusions; however, Vince was far from emotionally actualized and would require at least some degree of prompting.

                “Let me ask you, Vince, what are you going to do now?”

                “I have no idea. I need to see her again, to make sure she’s real. Maybe I can get some answers out of her about why she left. After that, I’m totally clueless.” Vince crumpled the used tissues in his hand and dropped them into the wastebasket at his side.

                “Then let’s explore the possible results of what you know you will do. You’re going to talk to her, assuming she keeps her word and contacts you. When that happens, you will try and get answers. The possible outcomes are that she refuses to give you any, she gives you ones that completely explain away her absence, or she tells you ones that still indicate she abandoned you,” Dr. Moran said. There were, of course, countless more scenarios than that, but for Vince keeping things finite and simple worked best. “Walk me through each of those situations. How do you feel that you’ll react?”

                “Truthfully, even then I still don’t know. I’d like to say that if she has a perfect reason I’ll be overjoyed and can just pick things up where they left off, but I’m not certain that’s what I want anymore.”

                “Oh? You indicated Eliza had stayed on your mind ever since her disappearance.”

                “She has; just not always in a good way. What I wanted, what I was working toward, was letting her go. I didn’t want to be haunted anymore. I was trying to… move on.”

                “I see,” Dr. Moran noted. “Perhaps there was someone else working their way into your heart, someone you wanted to make room for?”

                Vince stayed silent for a long moment, so long that Dr. Moran began to fear he had shut down and would refuse to talk anymore.

                “Last year, when Rich put me under, I was supposed to protect the person I was in love with. That’s the suggestion Nick told him to give. My memories of that hallucination have always been muddy, but there is one part that sticks out perfectly clearly. I was talking to the girl, and she had dark curly hair, like Eliza. Then, when a lock fell from her face, it was pale-blonde and straight. I still can’t remember her face, but the hair is unforgettable. It took me months to realize what that meant.”

                “If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear it.” Dr. Moran was already quite certain on the meaning; she just needed Vince to say it out loud.

                “I think, I mean I’m pretty sure, it meant that I was in love with Eliza and… someone else.”

                “Someone with pale-blonde hair, I assume.”

                “Yeah.” Vince didn’t know why he couldn’t say her name. Dr. Moran ran the healing department; there was no way she didn’t understand who he was talking about. Yet try as he might, it just wasn’t something he was ready to hear pass his lips.

                “That seems a very astute assessment,” Dr. Moran agreed. “Had Eliza remained a phantom of the past, you might very well have succeeded in letting her go. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world of might-have-been; we reside in one where she has resurfaced and must be dealt with, in one way or another.”

                “You make it sound like I have to fight her.” Vince allowed himself a small laugh at that idea.

                “If only it were that easy to deal with problems. You lot would put me out of job.” Dr. Moran gave him a small, yet warm, smile. “No, what I mean is that you have to deal with her reappearance. You can seek answers from her, try to rekindle your relationship, or opt to never see her again. Yes, cutting her out of your life is still a method of dealing with her, because it means you’ve committed to sticking her in the past. Like it or not, meeting her again happened, and now only you can determine what the right path forward is.”

                “At least the first step is easy,” Vince said. “I have to talk to her. How I go from there will depend on what she says. But if I don’t go, then I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put her behind me. The wonder of what she might have said or could have happened will stay with me forever.”

                “There is one other possibility we haven’t discussed, Vince. Eliza abandoned you once before. It could happen again.”

                “Then that’s the kind of person she is. Actually, that might be the easiest one to make peace with. If she’s the kind of girl who breaks promises and bails like this, I think I could finally be done with her.”

                Dr. Moran didn’t say it, but she hoped that was exactly what happened. Vince was fragile in his own way; this girl could do serious harm if she wanted to. As his therapist, the last thing she wanted was to see him take drastic steps backward.

                And as an HCP official, the last thing she wanted was a Super of his level and meltdown history losing control. Again.