Chapter 25:

Empty Threats

Half-Paid Heroes

"Nothing of your concern, Francophile," Jamie hissed at her, grinning at the odd word she'd found in the non-fiction section in her quest for Beethoven. (She accidentally browsed the numbers backwards, meaning she saw 'history of France' before she found what she needed.)

"Who taught the savage such sophisticated language?" Genevieve snapped back.

Jamie leapt at her, sending Genevieve's striped body backwards and almost causing her to hit a pine tree.

"I'll get Daddy on to you!" Genevieve cried as she stood up, her face reddened by her anger at said 'savage'. 

However, she never really did make good on that threat...
The year afterwards, Genevieve was playing the piano at the community centre.
The problem was that she sounded atrocious. (Like a dying cat or something.)

"I got lessons from teachers outside of this stinking village," the brunette admitted as Jamie appeared at her side, sounding proud she'd one-upped the 'savage'.

"You're really immature, you know that?" As Jamie added this, she slid on to the stool to Genevieve's left, marvelled at the shiny leather seat for a second...then began to play the one piece she knew best: Ode to Joy.

She didn't know it then, but Jamie gained a follower that day...and a few years later, they'd become friends.
When Jamie entered the workforce at sixteen, it seemed like things could get better than that, but they only went downhill from there.

The advent of real world superpowers had only just begun, meaning people were dropping out of school early and wanted to go where they thought those powers were. Jamie followed this path, eventually leading her to Central Security in Houston. She became a member of the so-called "offense squad", doing the jobs that no one else wanted to increase her reputation.

Her coworkers piled their unnecessary jobs on to her - even their management documents, because they believed she couldn't do them. (She did them, alright.)

Her powers, being derived from one of the four alchemical elements, was fairly common in a worldspanning corporation such as Central. Therefore, she had already been doomed to be nothing special from the start.

This was at least part of her discrimination problem, she'd figured out, if not the entirety.

By the time it was clear that people were picking on her unnecessarily and she finally gathered enough courage to complain about the maltreatment she was receiving - about five years into this job, just as Odagaki had gained the top position (by methods she didn't really know the specifics of) - she was thrown ruthlessly out of the company by the new boss, a martyr for her cause.

A martyr for tokenism...
The sound of footsteps startled Jamie out of her recollection. Chris was out and almost alright, aside from her still-present bedhead, her bare feet and her sleeping mask now poking out of a pocket of her pyjama pants. The doctor who'd checked her, who was nearby and looking at her medical records, was mumbling to himself about how quickly she'd healed.

"I could hear you through the wall," Chris admitted to Jamie, trying to ignore the doctor in the back. "What's going on between the two of you?"

Jamie gave her a mischievous grin. "I just discovered we have more in common than we previously thought."

"...and I have no idea what she's talking about," Yuki finished as loudly as he could, pulling his sleeve back into position as he kept eye contact with his younger coworker.

Chris shrugged, and the trio walked out of the uncomfortable hospital...

...only to hear Chris's stomach grumble again, since she still hadn't catered to that problem yet.

"I think it would be wise if you went back home to brush up, Chris, and then we'll get us some breakfast," Jamie interrupted the subsequent awkward silence. "All three of us," she hastily added, eyeing her male coworker as he tried to sneak off.
---- Author's Note ----
The book isn't closed on Jamie's backstory yet since I haven't gotten to the bit where she meets Alex, but that's a story for another time. (Actually, aside from Yuki, Chris and Ella, I haven't shown that part of the story for anyone who needs it...hmm.) Also, if you've been keeping track of the characters' ages, you'll realise Yuki and Jamie are the same age - just one of many interesting parallels between these two.

Genevieve in particular was fun to write, so she may just make an appearance later...Her entire aesthetic is built around the idea of "Paris syndrome" some people get after they go to France. (Check it up, it's interesting.)

Gerry Hines