They sat in the courtyard, though the wind was nigh freezing. Bryan sat with his back to Cam so he wouldn’t have to look at him while he ate.
“Damn,” Cam said. “It’s getting cold.”
“You brought me out here to talk about the weather?” Bryan took a bite of the sandwich. It tasted like nothing. He couldn’t even tell what was in it.
“Sorry.” But then Cam said nothing more for a full minute.
Bryan chewed and swallowed. “Christ, Cam. What is it?”
Again he didn’t speak right away. Then, finally, “Remember when you recruited me?”
“I didn’t recruit you. I found you. You recruited yourself.”
“Whichever. I joined, and then once I started capturing, I finally saw you again. And I told you I was scared. You thought I meant I was scared to be doing the job, and you were really pissed off. And I had to convince you it wasn’t that I was afraid of.”
“You were afraid of us never being able to capture all the demons,” Bryan interrupted.
“And you told me that was impossible. That we were recruiting more Possesseds all the time. That we were capturing at a good clip. That the demons wouldn’t overrun us.”
“Well, we found the gates. Hell, you guys got off early tonight.” But Bryan knew where the conversation was heading.
“Yeah, and DC and LA and Vancouver found their gates, and we’re heading the demons off at the pass.” He paused. “But I was there when you and the gamma were interrogated. And I was there when that Eternal attacked you. I know that both more demons and more Eternals are on their way.”
“We still have time.”
“We don’t know that.” Cam’s voice was a thin veneer over panic. “We don’t know when the gates will open for them all to come through.”
“We’re working on it.”
Bryan had quit bothering with his sandwich. It sat cold in his hands. He needed to reassure Cam somehow, but how? What were they doing? More of the same. Capturing. Just capturing and capturing. That wasn’t going to stop the gates from opening.
“I’m scared again,” Cam said. “I haven’t been, but I am now.”
Bryan turned to face him, made himself look past the glowing lifeforce. Cam’s eyes were wide, like he was fresh out of training again. “It’s a process,” Bryan told him. “We just found the gates. We’re studying them. You’ve seen the tech guys with their setup. We have to figure out what makes them tick and find a way to use that against them. To close them for good.”
“You really think we’ll do that? Figure that out?”
“We already know the gates themselves are made of demons. We work with the damned things every day. It’s just a question of manipulation.” It sounded good. He was practically convincing himself.
Cam smiled and looked at the ground. “Yeah. You’re right. Just demons.”
Cam watched the ground for a minute as Bryan chewed on his sandwich again.
“That was nuts,” Cam said. “What you did. Maybe if you can make a gate, we can close them.”
“Maybe. It’s a start.” Bryan didn’t explain further, that it had been a gate of little use, to nowhere. He was here to keep Cam in the positive. But with the mention of that gate, he knew what was coming next.
“Are you okay?” Cam asked. “That was your third time with it. It didn’t go easy, judging from what we saw.”
Had Cam heard his words to Harper? Had anyone? Or had he spoken them quietly enough?
He pasted a smile on his face, and lied. “I’m fine. Tell me about the containment tonight. I need some good news to tide me over today.”
Cam told him, while he finished his sandwich.