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January, 13th. Little Hades, The Reform Branch Offices.

Bennett looks at the calendar that's propped up on the receptionist's desk. It's her birthday. Not that it matters. Not that that's ever really mattered to her to begin with. She hadn't paid much attention to dates much when she'd been alive and she certainly hasn't been paying attention since she died either.

Death. Real death. It's still strange for her to think about, even months after it happened. The mechanics of death had been so skewed in Bete Noire. People died, so many people had died but they always came back. Until they stopped. The magic that had held the City of Sin together had started to fail. Bennett, being one of the city's favorites, got caught in the final crossfire.

She did what she had to do to protect the people she loved. She had known full well she might end up dead-dead from her actions but it was worth it. She'd die again, over and over if it meant getting to protect the people that had become everything to her...

So now she's been dead for a while. Four months, she realizes the exact amount of time it's been when she sees that calendar. She misses Topher so much. Before Bete Noire had decided to implode in on itself, they may have even been dancing around a few conversations that may have heavily implied an engagement was imminent.

Which is why when asked for her name, she's been giving it as Dr. Brink. Dr. Bennett Brink. It feels right. It's a way to feel connected to him while they're apart.

It's hard to believe it's been four months already. Once upon a time, Bennett would not have handled such a separation from him so well, but she's been doing alright. Perhaps she's just been distracted with work. Something she'd desperately like to get back to. Which is why she's sitting here, tapping her feet, fidgeting and gnawing on her fingernails. First the right hand, then the left. Old habits die hard.

But if there's one thing that Bete Noire has taught her...good byes are never forever.

"Mr. Lyman will see you now, Dr. Brink," the girl behind the desk says, finally. Instantly, Bennett's head snaps up, brought out of her thoughts. She's been idle for far too long between waiting for this meeting and having just spent a few weeks on the Acheron. She stands and stretches herself out, arms, legs, wings.

Some days, it still shocks her that she managed to achieve the status of being an angel. Had somehow managed to atone for all the awful things she's done in her life enough to be deemed worthy of Heaven. She had spent a short while as a Limbo case, even but ultimately...Up she went.

And then down she went. Having spent to much time in a city such as Bete Noire, Bennett had become quite accustomed to a certain amount of....she isn't quite sure how to describe it. Destruction? Something crazy happening just around the corner? All she really knew was that Heaven didn't have it.

Besides. She felt like she was betraying Topher by just watching the clouds up there roll by. She needed something to do.

She needed something new to fight for.

She walks down the hallway towards the door she's been directed to. She's been told that this guy will be able to help point her in the right direction for...a lot of things. There's a low level of anxiousness plaguing her, she isn't sure why it's there. Nervousness about being in a new city in Hell? Not knowing what to expect? Something has her feeling uneasy. She knocks on the door.

She has no idea what sorts of memories her face is going to dredge up for the man on the other side. Absolutely none at all. Bennett bites her lips together and looks up at the ceiling as she waits again.

When he sees her...obviously this is Bennett. But this isn't any Bennett he's ever seen before. This isn't the gawky girl he had started falling in love with, nor is this the madwoman that had tied him down and tortured him. She's different.

Because Josh was right. Bennett could do better. This Bennett actually did.

The wings that sprawl behind her are shades gray, when light plays off them they shimmer a bit like silver. The edges of them are coated in black, giving her the appearance of some sort of predatory bird, perhaps. But the angelic glow around her leaves no mistake. She's an angel.

Her hair is perhaps, a bit more wild. The curls bounce around her face from the terrible humidity and it's as if she's grown to like it that way or has given up trying to tame the mess of it. She still favors skirts, of course. That will never change. The pencil skirt she's chosen fits her curves in a way that she never would have dared to wear when she was a few years younger. Her blouse is loosely fitting, though. Likely because tight clothes are just uncomfortable when dealing with such ridiculous temperatures on a daily basis. Oh, and there's no sling. She's got two, fully functional arms like a normal person, too.

When he opens the door, he won't even have a chance to speak. She's lost enough of her shyness to want to be the first one to say something.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Lyman. I'm Dr. Bennett Brink. I'm the, ah. I'm the transfer. Well, obviously I'm a transfer since, ah. Wings and, uh, the..." She awkwardly motions around her head with her hands, trying to signify the glow, "But yes. Not the purpose of this, not the reason I'm here. I'm from the Reform Branch in Mnemosyne. I'm here to investigate some things concerning Brimstone in Little Hades."

She'll never lose that habit of word vomit, though.


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Bennett Halverson

July 2017


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