Cat walked around to the other side of the couch and noticed a small end table behind it. There was an oval-shaped picture frame sitting on top. Cat put her gun back into her holster then picked up the frame in one hand and dusting it off with the other.
The picture was of a man and woman, both smiling at the camera looking very happy. Cat squinted at the man. He looked familiar to her. It took a minute and then realized the man must have been Michael Hurst, Brandon’s father. If she was right, then Cat deduced the woman in the picture must have been Brandon’s mother.
Cat peeled her eyes away from the picture. She remembered when she went back in time with Brandon, that Michael went to X-Terminate to try to bail his wife out. She didn’t realize it before, but four-year-old Brandon grew up with no father and no mother because she was captured. Where did he go? How did he take care of himself?
Cat wondered where his mother was now. That was 14 years ago and she didn’t remember ever seeing a woman with the last name Hurst in the building. Cat swallowed a lump in her throat realizing that Brandon’s mother must have been dead.
Startled, Cat dropped the frame and turned around while taking her gun back out of her holster. She stretched her arms out pointing her weapon to the man who spoke. Before anything else could happen, she heard glass shattering.
Cat squeezed her eyes shut realizing what she had just done. Still pointing her gun outward, she glanced down to her side. She had dropped the picture on the ground by accident and the frame was completely broken.
“What are you doing?” Brandon asked staring blankly at the broken photo.
“I am so sorry…” Cat breathed. She peeled her gaze away from the picture and back at Brandon. “I missed the table.”
“I see that.”
Cat looked towards the stairs. Max must have heard her dropping the picture.
“I’m fine, Max! I just walked into a table and something fell.” She explained trying to keep her voice steady, but it still shook anyway.
Cat turned her attention back to Brandon who kept a steady gaze on her. Neither one of them said a word.
What was Cat supposed to say to him? She knew she couldn’t help him. She was a Hunter from X-Terminate. Yet, she felt guilty bringing him back there. She felt guilty capturing the other mutants. She couldn’t be on both sides. She especially couldn’t be on Brandon’s side and let him go right now. Not while Max was just upstairs.
Speaking of Max, Cat turned to look at the stairs again. She was pretty sure he was on his way back down.
“What are you doing here?” Brandon whispered.
“I’m on a mission to bring you in.” Cat said in a low voice.
“And…?” Brandon stretched out his arms as though he was waiting for Cat to make a move.
“And…” Cat mimicked him waiting for him to say something else, even though she knew what he was waiting for her to do. She also knew that he knew she wasn’t going to do anything to him.
“I’m right in front of you, Cat. And you have a gun.” Brandon took a step closer to her.
Cat glanced back down at the picture she broke. She then lowered her gun looking Brandon in the eyes. “I’m a Hunter for X-Terminate. I’m going to be running the company some day.”
“That’s great.” Brandon deadpanned.
“I am on a mission right now. And my orders are you to capture you and bring you back to X-Terminate where you’ll rot in a cell for the rest of your life.”
“If your father doesn’t murder me first.”
Cat winced at the word murder. Was that what her father was? A murdered? She had seen him kill in cold blood and she didn’t agree with it, but she never thought of her father as a murderer. But that’s what killing in cold blood for no reason means… Her father has murdered many people.
Max’s footsteps were getting louder. It sounded as though he had finally made it to the staircase.
“I can’t screw this up anymore, Brandon. I’m sorry.” Cat raised her gun again. She couldn’t let Max see her talking to Brandon and she especially couldn’t let Max see her letting Brandon go. She was in enough trouble as it was and the other Hunters and her father already seemed annoyed with everything she’s messed up with lately.
Cat pulled the trigger and blinked.
Her eyes shot back open and her whole body jolted. She remembered pulling the trigger, but she didn’t remember hearing a shot or feeling the kickback. Once her eyes were open all the way once more, she realized Brandon was no longer in front of her. Cat drew in a deep breath and stumbled backward, gripping the back of the couch to help keep her steady.
“What the hell just happened?” Max clomped down the stairs and put his arms out as though trying to hold his own balance.
“I…” Cat tried to catch her breath. “I saw Brandon. I tried to shoot him. Or, I did shoot him. I don’t know… I pulled the trigger at least.”
Max staggered over to Cat and took her gun out of her hand. He opened it up and counted the bullets. “Nothing shot out of your gun. Are you sure you pulled the trigger?” He closed it and handed it back to her.
“I thought I did.” Cat rubbed the back of her neck putting her gun back into her holster. “I remember starting to pull the trigger but didn’t hear a sound. It was almost like I fell asleep on my feet, but no time passed… And I didn’t actually fall asleep.”
“I feel like I just woke up as well.” Max checked his watch. “But no time passed.”
It was at that moment that Harold, Adam, and Greg burst through the front door of the building, guns at the ready. Once they all looked around and realized Max and Cat weren’t in any danger, they all relaxed.
“Is everyone okay?” Harold let out an exasperated sigh.
“We are, are you?” Max asked.
“Did we just get frozen in time?” Adam asked.
“I think so,” Max replied.
Cat blinked a couple of times. She didn’t like the feeling of being frozen in time. She remembered the feeling she had when she teleported with Brandon and she didn’t like that feeling, either. But she would take the teleportation any day over time stopping.
She looked down at the ground next to her and realized that Brandon did indeed stop time. Then he most likely teleported away before unfreezing everything.
The glass was still shattered on the floor, but the fame and the picture were gone.