Ms. Sakura had left for her offices with Lake’s offer in mind, a pleasent smile was on her face, one of acceptance she had not anticipated. Lake now had to discuss the situation with the others. Crusader was due back shortly.
Deciding to go straight to Crusader, whom she thought would put the offer before the team or not as he so chose, Lake went to find Crusader and tell him a little of what she’d learned. Remaining sensitive to Sakura’s need for discretion regarding her situation, she decided to inform Crusader of the nature of things, and let him decide whether he needed to know more or not.
It took him some time to return. He’d mentioned he had certain things he needed done that could wait no longer. So, Lake handled her own situation at he pharmacy. Realizing she might never again have the need or the opportunity to work a normal job again, she called her employer and asked for a leave of absence. As expected, they fired her. Well, she thought, worse things had happened than that.
She followed up the unfortunate phone call with a personal visit to the kindly old woman who’d given her the ticket to a vacation at Alpha. She thanked her and while she could no longer be her pharmacist, she told the elderly lady that her gift had opened Lake’s eyes to even greater opportunities and happiness. That news seemed to lift the old woman’s spirits and Lake left her with a small, if sad, smile.
By the time Lake returned to the location the rest of the team was staying, Crusader had completed his errands. She found him reviewing some paperwork that Vance had forwarded to him and approached quietly.
She waited silently until he realized she was standing there and looked up.
“Sorry to interrupt you, Crusader,” she said. “But I’ve discovered something that I’d like you to consider. I had a feeling about Miho Sakura, and I pursued it. I cornered her about it and although she was cautious and nervous at first, I think it did a lot of good for her to talk to me.
“In our conversation, it came clear that Miss Sakura not only possesses incredibly good health, but she also a keen mind and superhuman strength. She may have other abilities, as well. I encouraged her to seriously consider petitioning to join the NeoGenesis Initiative and told her that superhuman abilities were not something to hide in shame, but to use for the benefit of humanity. I need to tell you that she was surprised that I was willing to accept what she could do.”
Lake looked at Crusader meaningfully. Lake clearly felt he needed to speak with Miho Sakura personally about it if he wanted to understand why she would be afraid to reveal herself.
“In my opinion, superhuman abilities are best used to help, defend, and serve humanity, regardless of the origin of those abilities. She took my words to heart,” Lake told Crusader. “I believe she will ask to join us. I wanted to talk to you about this first so that you are aware in advance what’s coming.”
Sam sat back in his chair and gave Lake a serious and thoughtful look. “Thank you for giving me the heads up Lake. I appreciate that. Ihad a feeling about Ms. Sakura… Thank you for taking the initiative.” Sam set his papers to the side of the desk and leaned forward. “If Ms. Sakura wishes to join us she is more than welcome. She more than proved herself out there and we would be lucky to have her with us. If she does not approach me about this, I will be sure to let her know she is more than invited.
“Lake, would you have a seat? We need to talk about something… Something we need to set straight between us.”
Lake frowned with concern, then sat down and waited for him to explain.
Sam sat back in his chair and looked to Lake. “I know you say you are not the real Lake and I can accept that. Your actions however tell me otherwise. I just need to know that you see yourself as Lake. What I mean is, I don’t want you to be someone you’re truly not just for the sake of fitting in with us. Like I said, your actions had demonstrated that whoever you are, you can be trusted and called a good friend. I just want to make sure you can be completely comfortable with yourself in this group. I hope I’m not stepping over my bounds here, I just want to be sure you are happy with your situation with us.”
“When we were all in college together,” Lake began, “I had already taken on Lake Rain’s life. Lake is the only person I’ve ever been to any of you, so it doesn’t matter that you’ve never met the real me, the person I was born to be. As far as I’m concerned, that life is dead.”
She looked away as sadness haunted her face. “And so is everyone I cared about from that time.” Lake looked back to Crusader. She didn’t let emotion rule her; there were no tears in her eyes. “I am comfortable being Lake Rain to you. It’s who you know me as. It’s how Erebos and Oriana know me. If I became someone else, then I’d be like a stranger to you. I don’t want that.
“The rest of the world can know me as Metatide. But I will tell you now that I will be whoever and whatever you — by that I mean this team — needs me to be, either on the job or off. That is my power, after all.”
Firmly hitting the table and standing from his chair Sam held out his hand. “I’m glad to hear you say that Lake. As of now I need you to be my second in command! Congratulations!”
Lake raised an eyebrow at him, then stood up as well and took his hand. She smiled. “Thank you,” she said as they shook. “I believe in what the NeoGenesis Initiative is trying to achieve. And I believe in you.”