in which alphonse is angry
Amadhay was headed to her room when she saw Alphonse.
Normally, she would have paused to chat with him, but she was currently all too well aware that she had abandoned a mission and didn’t want his attention on her. She turned on her heel and almost made it back down the hallway she had just vacated, when she felt her body turn around. She didn’t even attempt to fight it, knowing it was useless. He had Control.
She stood before Alphonse in mere clicks. “I was just going to finish the mission,” she claimed, glad that he was still allowing her control over her own mouth. “I still have to go get Palnoki’s Wrangler and Borg Queen,” she added in hopes he would simply let her off to do just that. She wanted nothing more than to put off the inevitable conversation on her decisions until she had completed the mission. She was sure holding four high-ranking members of the Palnoki would put Arne Riff in a good mood, if not make him completely forget the need for reprimand.
Her boss gave her a knowing look—which irritated her because he truly did know what she was thinking—before turning to lead her down the hallway. “And you will,” he agreed as her feet moved against her will, following him. “After we are finished.”
“But if this is about me not finishing the mission, can’t it wait until I do?” she whined, knowing that it amused him when she did. If he had been sent by Arne Riff to punish her, she wondered what, exactly her uncle had said to him. Her first goal, however was to get him out of whatever mood was prompting him to publicly Control her. He hadn’t felt the need to do that in nearly three years, almost as long as he’d known her on a personal level.
“It would if I hadn’t received three complaints on you today,” he responded conversationally, telling Amadhay both what had prompted his actions and that it was highly unlikely that she was going to get him in a better mood. “If this were only about your unfinished mission, I would see no reason to worry. You have never left a mission untended before, never even failed a single mission. Until Madra.” He paused there, as if saying something more to her, as if questioning her alliance.
If Amadhay had been in control of her body, she would have flinched at yet another reminder that she was, for all intents and purposes, on probation until she could prove herself to still be an asset to their operation. Before Madra, she could have received ten complaints in a day and not be in any kind of trouble. She wasn’t a traitor. She hadn’t been compromised by Lizu, she had been betrayed. How long was she going to be punished until everyone saw that?
“And Lord Phoeganis’ complaints about your relationship with Base doesn’t worry me. However,” he continued after giving her a piercing look, “You see, I received a troubling complaint from Darach in the Information Department. You know him, yes?” Amadhay felt her head nod. “Yes, he launched two complaints against you, actually.”
Amadhay chose not to say anything, instead trying to determine why a complaint from Darach Devalier, would bother her boss so much more than from their leader, Lord Phoeganis. Their walk back to his office was a silent, though embarrassing one. The route Alphonse used went through all the main areas, as if showing her off to all of the members. The shocked looks they received made her positive that he was, in fact, making a point by making sure her walk of shame was seen by many. If she had to guess, she would say that it was because of her high status and near mythical infamy among the members around her own age (or if she were to be completely honest, among all of the less powerful members). She was sure that he was attempting to dispel any rumors implying that she could get away with anything, which she had nearly believed herself. She knew, just like everyone else, that he had a soft spot for her.
The point was simple: If Amadhay could be Punished, anyone could be. She wondered if there was an underlying point about his favoritism toward her, something along the lines of how she was the favorite until she screwed up. She hoped that wasn’t true. She liked being his favorite. It got her the most fun jobs.
It was harder for her not to say anything when members whose names she didn’t even know gawked at her. She held her tongue, however, until they finally entered Alphonse’s office and the door closed behind her with a decisive click. At that point, the words on the tip of her tongue disappeared and for the life of her, she couldn’t remember what she had wanted to complain about. She hated when he did that.
Only once all of her attention was on the matter at hand and the door was closed behind her, did Amadhay receive control of her body back. She took a deep, experimental breath to be sure of it before giving Alphonse an apologetic smile, which he did not return, instead choosing to frown as he moved behind his desk. If nothing else, that told her that this was different from the other times she had found herself in his office. He sat and Amadhay eyed the seats before his desk, but as he had yet to ask her to sit, an action that was just another peculiarity in this meeting, she moved to stand before his desk. He picked up two papers and turned them to her, pushing them across his otherwise clean desk.
She didn’t bother to read either beyond the three names at the top of the papers. The first was his, below the words “Request to”. The second, larger one was her own, beside the words “recalcitrant party”. The third was Darach’s, signed neatly below hers beside the words “superior officer”. She didn’t feel comfortable with her name being written on those forms. While it certainly wasn’t her first time in this situation, standing before the Head of Delegations and caretaker of juvenile Phoegani members for doing something wrong (usually having to do with her smart mouth and quick temper), it was the first time someone had taken the time to deal with the formal paperwork of a Punishment Appeal. It made it seem worse, somehow.
She shifted, looking back to Alphonse, who drummed his fingertips across his desk in an erratic pattern. “Your first formal appeal for punishment,” he orated her thoughts, fully aware of them as he was back inside of her head, his formal tone very different from the conversational one he normally used with her. “Do you understand what this means?” he asked her.
She took a moment to think, but then shook her head. Alphonse didn’t see what she did, couldn’t tell even though he had control of her, but he felt the pull of her Gift to tell him that she had nervously moved, done something too quickly for him to even attempt to see. He assumed it had to do with the papers that were now face down in front of him instead of where he had placed them. He tamped down on his irritation that she didn’t seem to be taking this as seriously as she should, and put a tight lock of Control on her Gift of temporal manipulation, making sure she didn’t move any faster than he could see.
“He is asking for a public punishment for you not following protocol.” When Amadhay looked confused, he began to elucidate all the protocol she had chosen not to follow. “Such as choosing not to report directly to the Information Department to recount the details of your last,” he thought over how many missions she had been given since becoming a solo agent, “97 missions, leaving on missions without appropriate designations and information, and especially your disproportionately negligent and inappropriate interrogation of Atlas Palnoki.”
Amadhay’s hands slammed on his desk before she remembered where she was and who was talking at her. Though she was normally comfortable being less formal with him than the other Department Heads or her other superiors, he was one of the few who could honestly say that she had never before shown anything that could be construed as disrespect toward him. She snapped her mouth shut and put her hands back at her sides, wanting to, but knowing better than to challenge him.
“No, please, go ahead and speak,” he snapped at her, getting to her in a way that he wouldn’t have on a better day. On a day when she hadn’t been forced to do an interrogation of a man who seemed not to care that she had him. On a day when she hadn’t been talked down to by most of her superiors. On a day when she hadn’t failed yet another mission. On a day when she wasn’t emotionally compromised by Benjy’s death and resurrection.
“Fine,” she bit out, “I will. My so-called inappropriate and negligent interrogation shouldn’t have had to happen in the first place. I shouldn’t be stuck to interrogations to punish me for Madra!” she yelled, vaguely aware that she wanted to pace, but was still. “I got Atlas Palnoki here. I did. I shouldn’t be wasting my time dealing with him and his requests and freaking Darach when I am not suited for it.”
She felt like she should be breathing heavily, but her body was still inhaling and exhaling normally, making it incredibly obvious that Alphonse had control of her body again. She glared just past his ear and he gave her a cool look in reply, turning over the sheets of paper.
“And that request is accepted,” he announced to her, picking up a pen and writing a note on one of the forms.
Inwardly, Amadhay was incredibly angry. She wanted to yell and trash his office, but she now had no power over her body, not even the slightest control over her blinking. He forced her to stand still, with her arms loose at her sides, shoulders relaxed, back straight, feet parted, mouth firmly shut, breathing calm and even, and eyes locked on his own. He regarded her coolly, not saying anything for a few clicks, allowing her to mentally tantrum until he stopped even that.
“As for his second appeal,” he continued as if he hadn’t just destroyed all of the free will she had. “He is requesting permission to punish you himself for direct and willful disobedience in refusing his orders.” He paused for a moment to let that settle in her mind. When he felt she had worried an appropriate length of time over what Darach could possibly have planned for punishment, he came to the only decision that was ever an option.
“That request is denied. You are not under his jurisdiction.” He waited out her relief, continuing to speak once suspicion began to taint her mind. “You did, however, willfully disobey a superior, which cannot go without consequence and thus will be added to the public reprimand.”
He stood up and walked around his desk to stand before her. “You also know better than to disrespect a superior. That makes twice in one day. You would do well to remember that we do not take disrespect kindly.” He regarded her for a long moment before giving her control over herself again. She didn’t move in any way different from how he had placed her. “Finish your mission,” he ordered after another long, tense clack.
Her deep breath was the only hint to her relief. She gave a curt nod, “Yes sir,” she responded before leaving his office.