"Slim to none. She's been in the Council substructure since she turned seventeen. Her entire family consists of a four-year-old son. Keenan Aleine lives off-site in an apartment in San Diego."
"With his father?" Psy bore children as part of fertilization contracts. Custody depended on the terms of the individual contract.
"No. The child is under Council protection. Lives in the same building as the Rika-Smythe family group."
"That was my thought. I'll attempt to confirm."
Judd began to head for the exit. "Send me the data when you have it."
The SnowDancer tunnels were relatively quiet when he got back, but he ran into Indigo almost immediately. Suspicion was a hard edge in her eyes.
"Where were you the night Tim died?"
It was an unexpected question. Circumstances had led him to believe the SnowDancer lieutenant trusted him. Clearly, he'd been wrong. "Alone. In my quarters. And no, that can't be verified. Pity you don't have a Justice-Psy here willing to scan me."
"Oh, for crissakes, don't give me any shit." Indigo glared. "I've had it up to here with men and their attitudes. I had to ask, you know that." Then she was gone.
Not completely certain what had just taken place, Judd continued on to his rooms. Or that had been his intention. Halfway there, he realized he was heading to Brenna's instead and that his need to see her was no minor fault in the conditioning.
He stopped - he couldn't allow himself near her when he was this close to what could be a lethal edge. It took conscious effort to put himself back on the correct path. But he hadn't been inside his room five minutes when there was a knock on the door. He knew who it was. That knowledge didn't keep him from pulling the door open.
Brenna pushed past him and into the room, hands on her hips. There were dark shadows under her eyes, lines around the corners of her mouth.
"You had more dreams." He shut the door though his brain was sparking with all sorts of warning signals.
She blew out a breath between pursed lips. "Where have you been?" she asked instead of confirming his guess.
He wasn't accustomed to anyone waiting for him. The fact that she had, caused enough of a reaction that he folded his arms and leaned against the door. "None of your business."
"None of my - " She clenched her fists. "Would it have hurt you to leave your phone on?"
He'd been operating under full silence - the lab had had some incredibly complex intrusion detection systems. "It didn't occur to me that you'd attempt contact." It was the truth. He was used to walking alone, to surviving alone. It was a necessary adjunct of his particular ability. But Brenna had not only noticed his absence, she had worried.
His reaction to her intensified...enough to cause a mild pain response. Pain triggers were an integral part of Silence. Brutalize a child for something and he soon learned to stop doing it. Even if that meant shutting down his own emotions. That reminder, rather than the pain, was what made him say what he did. "You and I have no relationship that implies a commitment to constant availability."
Brenna's voice was harsh when she replied. "Don't you say that. We have something and don't you try to pretend it doesn't exist."
He unfolded his arms. "We have nothing." Because he could give her nothing, not even the comfort she so obviously needed. The comfort she'd waited all night to find with him. Rather than being there for her, he'd been out doing violence. "You're clinging to me because I helped you during the healing process. It's a normal psychological reaction."
"You are not like everyone says." She refused to drop her eyes. "I see you."
"You see what I choose to show you." He moved away from the door. "It'll be better for both of us if you speak to Faith or Sascha the next time you have a question. You appear to be getting too emotionally attached to me."
She actually growled at him, a low throaty sound that seemed incongruous coming from her slender throat. "If I was a violent woman, I'd claw you for that."
He held her gaze. "No matter how hard you push, I'll remain Psy. Silence is who I am." The Protocol had saved him from becoming a serial murderer by turning him into a sanctioned killer. Sometimes there were no good choices. "Go find a changeling to give you what you need. I can do without the disruptions."
Striding across the room, she pulled open the door. "You know what, I think I will." With that, she was gone, striding down the corridor in tight jeans and a red sweater that drew male eyes to her body. It was only when one of those admiring males tripped over thin air that Judd realized he was using his Tk. He slammed the door shut before he could do any more damage.
A finely tuned spike of pain speared through his skull, signaling a detectable breach in his conditioning. He didn't want to fix it, didn't want to stop his descent into chaos. What he wanted was to hurt the men who'd dared look at her.
The thin line that snaked down the wall in front of him appeared as insubstantial as a pencil drawing, but it was a hairline fracture that could turn into a full break with a little more pressure. Just like his mind. He managed to control the unrestrained flow of telekinetic power before he caused the wall to collapse, but the rupture was enough to demonstrate exactly how close he was to a catastrophic loss of control. If he didn't fix the fault in his conditioning, it could mean death for hundreds in the den - adults, children...Brenna.
Sweat dripped down his spine as he backed up and sat on the edge of the bed to begin repairing the major flaws. The finer fractures that riddled the previously hard casing of Silence would have to wait until he was calmer. Right then, his concentration was shot. He could still smell Brenna's psychic scent in the air.