She could see him through the living room window. She was a peeper in the darkness, peering in at him and his family. He looked just like her Vereint.
Melissa hugged the shadows of the flowered bushes, crouching below the window ledge. She leaned as close to the glass as she dared, straining to listen to the joy happening inside.
“Gimme that!” he’d cried, and snatched a puffer jacket off the back of the couch. His guests had laughed as he positioned himself in front of the TV, a neon green game controller in his hand. “I’m going to show you how it’s done.”
The music started and Vereint seemed to be following along with what was happening on the TV, his body twisting and jerking smoothly with the beat. The couple on the couch laughed and clapped their hands, cheering for him. Melissa was amazed that he could dance so well.
The fast beat of the kpop song was followed up by a buttery sweet boy voice giving thanks to everyone he loved and then…
“…I’m the bad guy, duh. I’m the bad guy…“
He wasn’t her Vereint, but for just a moment he could have been. She could imagine her Vereint dancing to the song and it was all at once wonderful and horrifying and delightful. She just wanted to see him again.
Seeing this Variant that looked so much like her Vereint, she felt a renewed sense of purpose. This was what she was protecting.
Melissa stayed crouched in the darkness for the next two hours. She couldn’t force herself to walk away, not just yet.
But when she walked through the door, Melissa had to turn away and leave. Because that other Melissa Kim was a young and fresh faced girl. She was someone that had her whole life in front of her and Melissa refused to eat another bowlful of envy. She wanted to be happy for that girl with that Vereint, but if she saw an alternate version of Warrick she was going to scream.
She kept walking until she was out of sight, giving herself time to settle down. “Throw your hands up if you keep in touch,” she murmured, and laughed. She tapped the device on her wrist and blipped out of that existence. She had a mission to complete.