"I missed you." She mumbled into my shoulder. It was hard to make out because it was so muffled, and only made me tense more. Who was this girl?
At that point I heard someone cough slightly and realized everyone in the room was staring at me. No! This is not how I wanted to make my first impression!
"Miss." I said as politely as I could under the circumstances. "I think you may have mistaken me for someone else."
"Don't be silly, Lucy." She lifted her chin so I could hear her more clearly. My skin prickled. I shifted uncomfortably. She drew back so that she could look me in the eye. I started at the pure white pupils set in a pair of dark brown irises. A seer. "I could never mistake someone else for you." The words might have been disconcerting if they hadn't been delivered so cheerfully with the white pupiled eyes of the seer positively beaming at me in a way that I had never associated with their solemn stereotype.
I relaxed slightly now that I had some personal space, though the girl's arms were still looped around my waist in a loose hug. I might have been imagining the many small grins around the room. It seemed as if my new colleagues were hiding them. Most of my attention was on the seer. I was surprised to note that she was younger than me, barely out of high school by my guess. She wasn't much shorter than I was and had the physique of one who was not yet finished growing. Her hair was long and full. Her skin was either very tan or very pale, it was impossible to tell since I could not discern her ethnicity and I wasn't exactly inclined to ask. She seemed to radiate a simple joy at my presence. But what stuck me most strongly was the fact that I had never met her before in my life.
A woman behind her cleared her throat. "Miranda, I'm sorry to interrupt, but we need to go follow up on the money trail for the hex racket." She smiled apologetically, though I really couldn't tell if it was at me or the seer, Miranda. Miranda's arms tightened around me slightly.
"But Kate," She began to protest. The woman shook her head.
"Now, Miranda." She said, firmly. Kate walked up and guided the reluctant seer away from me, to my relief. Miranda cast a worried, white pupiled glance back at me.
"I'll see you later. Right, Lucy?" She asked anxiously. Kate answered for me.
"Of course, you will." She assured Miranda, with a wide smile that seemed to turn into a devious smirk when she glanced back at me. "You'll be seeing a lot of Lucy. She's working here now." Miranda positively beamed. Kate pulled Miranda away, with one last glance at me, down a hall out of sight.
Leaving me completely bewildered. Conversations resumed but it didn't escape my notice that they were whispered, everyone was casting glances my way. I tried not to scowl (first impressions!). Great, as if it was my fault some girl don't even know decided to make a scene. I straightened my shoulders and my shirt, then walked over to Sgt. William Dark. "Hello, sir." I greeted him with a smile. He was one of the people who had conducted my interview. It might have been my imagination, but I thought that he was looking at me differently. Somehow his expression was both amused and... knowing.
"Right this way, Miss. Mason." He led me over to a small desk with a computer. "This is where you'll be working." He went on to explain what I'd be doing. It was simple paperwork really, scanning case files, typing reports. Boring stuff, but an internship at the MCIU was an internship at the MCIU. It was crazy competitive just trying to transfer in. When five internships for college students were opened literally hundreds of people applied. Honestly, I'm astonished I made the cut, but I was not going to mess this up. So I started working with a cheery smile, and pointedly ignored the stares. It took me a while to put the strange encounter with Miranda out of my mind, but soon enough I was fully absorbed in my work.
I was so invested that the hours passed quickly. I was jolted from typing a summary of a potions smuggling ring when a tray of food was placed on top of the pages. My eyes raised to find Miranda smiling down at me, holding her own food. "Forgetting to eat again, Lucy?" She asked fondly. I raised an eyebrow. This girl clearly knew more about me than just my name. I thought that my father was the only one who realized that I didn't eat when I was absorbed in what I was doing. How did this stranger know? I lifted the tray and removed the file, unwilling to risk it becoming dirty. I put the papers away as Miranda pulled a chair over to my desk. She put her tray down. I eyed her, then my food. I was hungry, but I wasn't sure what to make of Miranda. I would have gone for my own food, but that seemed rather rude. Clearly this girl was important, since she'd been allowed in the MCIU at such a young age, so I didn't want to insult her. The fact remained, this familiarity was making me uncomfortable. Miranda blinked at me, apparently uncomprehending of my lack of a response.
"What's wrong?" She inquired. "It's your favorite." I looked down and was startled to see that the plate held a tuna sandwich with salt and vinegar chips. The truly surprising part was that there were cranberries mixed into the tuna. I pulled back and glanced up at her. This was getting weird. It was my favorite, but I didn't get to eat it often. Miranda was staring at me. The white pupils searching my face with concern. I had to say something.
"I don't think we've been formally introduced." I said, finally. "You're Miranda, right? I'm Lucy Mason." Miranda's jaw dropped.
"O- oh," She turned slightly red. "Oh! I'm so sorry." She held her hand over the table. "I'm Miranda Dai." I shook her head. Miranda pulled back, and beamed. "It's really great to meet you." Then something dawned on her. "Wait, did I hug you this morning?" She gasped.
"You did." I nodded warily. She was starting to flush.
"And this is the first time we've met?" She asked.
"It is." I confirmed with a nod. Miranda turned bright red.
"Oh," She looked down at her food. "I just... I'll be right back." Miranda excused herself rapidly and hurried away. I stared after her, as perplexed now as I had been this morning. I looked back down at the food she'd brought me, only to return my gaze across from me as Kate, the older woman, took the chair Miranda had just left with a sigh. She glanced up at me. I waited, clearly she had something to say to me. I ran my eyes over her again. Her hair was light brown, pulled back in a low ponytail. She was probably in her late thirties, married, as evidenced by the ring on her finger. My eyes settled on a rune on the ring, married to a mage, I amended. Though not a magic user herself, given her choice of gun (9 mil, favored by non-magic users) and protective charm. Overall, I got the impression that she was a no nonsense detective, who was valued in the MCIU for her practicality.
"You're confused." She stated.
"Very." I confessed. "I'm hoping that you are about to clear somethings up." Kate smiled grimly.
"I am, after a fashion." She contemplated my face. "We are very excited to have you here, Lucy." I could feel my irritation flare.
"So it would seem." I replied, trying not to let my annoyance show. Either I failed miserably or she was just a very good detective. She laughed slightly.
"Perhaps it would be easier to say, it's nice to finally meet you." She amended. "You see, we've heard a lot about you."
"From who?!" I asked, becoming outright frustrated. Who talked about me this much?
"From Miranda." Kate answered. I blinked. "Obviously you've noticed Miranda is a seer." Kate continued, ignoring my surprise. "Honestly, Miranda is one of the most powerful seers that we have ever encountered. Because of this, she sometimes has difficulty differentiating the future and the past." Kate held my eyes with her own. "She confuses her visions with her memories." Things were beginning to make sense, though they didn't make me feel any more comfortable.
"And she's had visions of me." I inferred flatly.
"Lots of them." Kate nodded. "You might have only met Miranda this morning, but she feels as if she has known you for years."
"To me she's a stranger." I argued. I felt like I was being asked for something I couldn't give. I didn't know what yet, but it seemed as if Kate (and the rest of the MCIU, if their reactions to the hug this morning was any indication) wanted something from me.
"To her, you are her best friend." Kate smiled at me, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. "Don't worry, you'll do fine."