Anyway, it’s Winter Being Badass, as requested.
The room felt wrong. His sisters, Winter thought, might have said that it was creepy or oogy or sick, although sometimes sick was a good thing.
(Having three younger sisters go through teenage-hood a couple years apart had been approximately a decade of confusion and headaches for Winter. He wondered how actual fathers did it. )
What it felt like to him was cold, and not in his namesake way, and broken.
“I think,” his contact – no, friend. Normal people, his sister Summer kept telling him, had friends. And someone he played chess with every week and sometimes saw a movie with was, if not a potential SO or lover – and this one was not – a friend. His friend in the FBI cleared his throat. “I think that what’s going on in these situations is that someone has cut their Stands. That’s the correct word, yes? I read Ernesta Roundtree – she’s your mother, correct? – I read her paper on the Strands last year. They told me I needed beach reading,” he added with a wry smile.
“Strands, yes. That is what most people I’ve encountered have called them, at least. They are connections that bind us to everyone else. And you brought what I asked?”
“I did. Normally we call this victimology, but in your case this is something different, isn’t it?”
“It is.” He flipped through the digital files. “What I am doing – what I am going to attempt – is reconnecting the victim with their strongest connections. Those people are still trying to connect to him in some manner. I intend to help the process along.”
It made his skin crawl to be in the room with the man. The man, in turn – strapped to the bed, watching them with animal interest but nothing else – made a small part of his brain want to flee.
He ran his fingers through the air, feeling his own Strands, the Strands that his friend had – to him, to his team, to his family. He brushed his hand nearer the victim.
No. There, questing towards the victim, a line that wanted to tie. He kept brushing, finally closing his eyes to get his mundane sight out of the way.
In the dark, he could see three little lines, one thicker than the others. “Sister,” he murmured. He knew all about sisters. “That one’s his mother. That one – there was a lover?”
“The lover is very angry about the whole situation, but she did allow herself to be interviewed,” his friend agreed. “She feels like he cut her off, but she’s not willing to give up on him quite yet. The mother, the sisters, they feel the same – the father is stomping around angrily, for the most part-”
“-which indicates that he, too, feels a connection. Yes.” Winter stroked through the Strands one more time and closed his eyes. “This is going to be tricky. Tell the family – tell them that this is like an injured limb. He is going to need the equivalent of physical therapy to be able to walk on it again. They’re going to need to be patient, and to continue to push forward very slowly. All right?”
“I’ll tell them. But if they push too hard-”
“Then, like actual PT, they’ll have injured the damaged limb and he’ll have to start all over again.” With his eyes closed, he could see the way the Stands were reaching. There was a natural order to things here, an order he could use. Mothers tended to be connected to their children. Sisters and brothers to each other. Lovers. Parents. Those were common connections.
He smoothed out the tension in the lines, pulled them ever so slightly, and found, deep within the patient, the places where connections had once gone. There were stumps there, stumps like an amputation. But stumps in ones connections were not the natural order of things.
Winter pushed energy through the connections and, tenuously, carefully, they joined.