Fic snippet: Moral Support

moralsupport

WRE fic snippet, a dark post-book 1 Kit-centric piece I wrote a few weeks ago about the more difficult side of being a Specialist Support Agent. Discussion of suicide, mention of homophobic bullying.

Glossary: Compel; a term I’m trying out for the hypnosis that some supernaturals can use to influence humans, the equivalent of the Jedi mind trick. Double Duty; when someone in a position of authority recognised by humans (eg police officer, politician, coastguard) is a supernatural who assists the Council.

Romaine stopped just inside the living room. El was perched on the edge of the sofa, one hand on Kit’s shoulder. Kit looked distraught, staring at the floor.

“What happened?” Romaine asked.

El glanced at Kit, then at Romaine. “Kit lost a client. Suicide.”

Shit. Romaine shook his head, moved closer.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Kit nodded, not meeting his gaze.

It had always been one of Romaine’s fears when working at the helpline. Field agents saw some terrible things after the fact, but the helpline made him feel more responsible for trying to prevent them. It was worse for specialists, who often got to know their clients on a deeply personal level.

“I’d been with her a couple of months,” Kit said distantly. “She had family issues. I’m estranged from my brother for good reasons and he’s thrilled we’re not in each other’s lives. But Winter. I love her. I can’t imagine abandoning her. Why would you do that to your family?”

El bent over to press a kiss to his hair.

“I’m sure you did everything you could,” Romaine said.

“Kaede said it’s not all my fault,” Kit said, naming the agency therapist. “And it’s not, not all of it. I told the Council she needed more help. Money to move to be with her family. She needed to stay them. I wanted to confront her family directly but they’re human – I did speak to them once, but I had to watch my words and I don’t Compel well. But I should have tried. Of course they didn’t seem to care how much she was hurting, it’s all on her isn’t it not to be sad…and anyway, humans…you know how well humans handle these things.”

Drugging or incarcerating. Romaine sighed. “When’s the funeral?” That would at least begin to give some closure.

“Autopsy will be completed tomorrow, investigation should be finalised by the end of the week. The double duty police support officer has told the family they can arrange it for late next week.” Kit scoffed. “Her family will all go and weep over how much they’ll miss her even though it was their leaving her behind that pushed her to it. Hypocrites.”

Romaine exchanged a glance with El. She squeezed Kit’s shoulder. “I think I should come with you.”

“We,” Romaine corrected.

“So I don’t do or say something untoward?”

“For moral support,” Romaine said, without refuting the question.

Kit gave a wry laugh. “That too.” He shook his head. “Thank you.”

He got to his feet. “I’m going outside for a cigarette.”

****

“Hey.”

Kit blew a cloud of smoke into the air, not looking at Romaine. “Hey.”

“El and I would like you to stay with us tonight.”

That drew his attention. He shook his head and for a moment refusal hovered on his lips, before he said, “Okay.”

Romaine came to stand beside him. “It must be tough.”

Kit nodded.

“Did you find – ” He broke off but Kit knew what he meant to ask.

“No. Family member. Finally drove back when they couldn’t get through on the phone. Tough for them. But she said they didn’t believe that she was hurting, didn’t understand. Guess they’ll believe it now.” Kit took a final drag of his cigarette, exhaled a cloud of smoke. “Humans are good at making excuses to absolve themselves of guilt though.”

Romaine watched Kit drop the stub, extinguish it with one foot. “Aren’t we all good at that sometimes?”

“Sure. I was thinking of all the suicides due to bullying. People say it was the teenager’s choice to hang themselves. All those people harassing them, calling them homophobic names, making their life a misery? No blame there. It makes me sick. People’s words and actions have consequences.”

“I don’t disagree.” This was one of the reasons supernaturals kept their true natures human. If someone could be harassed for their sexuality or someone’s perceived notion of it, imagine how much a Wolf could be singled out as a monster and verbally or physically abused for their innate nature.

Kit shook his head. “I’m aware I share some blame.”

“Kit-”

“I stayed with her so many nights. I talked to her in human form. I slept alongside her in Cat form. I made appeals to the Council on her behalf. I begged her to wait, promised I’d keep fighting. Told her I’d be there for her and she wasn’t alone. But of course I wasn’t enough, but how could I be? You can’t replace someone’s family. I did what I could within the confines of the job. But I could have done more. I should have broken protocol and had someone Compel the family. Gone to the Council directly and explained in person I thought she was a suicide risk.”

The Council had a strict policy, enshrined in its very foundation. No-one asked to be born but had life thrust upon them. As such anyone was entitled to end their life. The Council could however offer assistance and support that would help someone continue to survive. Kit had asked for money and the Council had, for whatever reason refused. An appeal might have helped. If she’d not been born human but Cat, for example, it might have helped. Kit would never know but always wonder.

“The Council can be precious about resources when it comes to humans, even those who have become under our protection,” Romaine said. “It’s not your fault.”

Kit shrugged. “I could have done more. And yes, it’s partly on her, but it’s a lot on the Council, and mostly on those who left her behind. She told me when we last spoke that she felt undervalued, unimportant, unloved. I told her those things weren’t true, but once someone has been convinced by those closest to them, it’s hard to undo those beliefs. I didn’t get chance to help her the way she deserved.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah.” Kit swiped back a lock of hair. “Anyway. Thanks for the offer to stay over.”

As if they could have done anything less. You looked after those you loved.

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