Amory meets her new partner in the ethics project.
Last Lines: “I know more than you think,” he says. “I know The Church, so I know you.” Lucas sits down against the wall, protecting himself from the icy rain pelting the concrete.
Within the hour, Lucas and Amory sit in the busy lobby of OSA, waiting to be reprimanded for their incompetence. Amory fears they will be thrown in the RPF, and she needs to avoid that outcome if she ever wants to make it out of the Sea Org.
The two wait quietly, their shoulders lightly touching due to the close chairs which they cannot move. Amory situates herself against the arm rest opposite of Lucas, trying to move as far away from him as possible. Lucas rests with his head back, staring up at the ceiling, and Amory rapidly taps her foot on the ground and twists the dirty gray scarf around her arm. She has a difficult time confining herself to the small chair while anticipating the inevitable. She tries to hide her face from the people passing them, but the effort is unnecessary since no one acknowledges the downstats as they come and go from their important work.
After they wait for twenty minutes, Tracy walks out to meet them. In the middle of the crowded hallway, she shouts, “You idiots! You are both pieces of shit who can’t do anything right! I heard that you two almost burned down the Celebrity Center. If either of you so much as coughs without authorization, I’m immediately throwing you in the RPF. Now get out of my face.”
Images of Erika flash in Amory’s mind as she listens to the familiar lecture, and old feelings of guilt and shame resurface in her body. The confidence she has been building drains from her instantly, and she sinks lower into her chair. Every eye in the room is trained on them. She clutches her upper arms with her hands and stares at the ground. Each second seems to defy physics and last hours as Tracy’s words painfully reach their target.
After Tracey leaves, Amory follows Lucas’ lead and rolls out of her chair. They obediently run of the office as quickly as they can.
Once they are outside the department and slow back down, Amory sees that, somehow, Lucas is still smiling. Confused, she asks him, “What are you so happy about? Didn’t you hear with Tracy just said?” Lucas is a complete mystery to Amory, his words and actions outside her realm of comprehension.
“Of course I heard. Everyone heard,” he says indifferently.
Amory stops. “Don’t you care?” she asks, her brow wrinkling in bewilderment. Her tone is no longer angry but curious. She is perplexed by this strange creature, like a gruesome accident she can’t help but stop and watch.
“No, I don’t,” he says with a quick wink. He grabs her shoulders from behind and gently shakes the rigidity from her body. “Maybe you should loosen up a bit. Then you wouldn’t care either.”
For the first time today, Amory smiles. “Maybe you’re right,” she says under her breath. His touch no longer disgusts her, and she welcomes the warm contact. She leans back against his hands, and the pair walks side by side back to their bus.
Scenes from the Next:
It is Sea Org Day, Amory’s favorite day of the year. But this year, things are different.