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“Head,” Sarah says. “Assassination style.”

“Sweet!” Sebastian looks impressed. “I told you he had mob ties.”

“You guys,” I cry, horrified. “The man is dead! There’s nothing cool about it! And of course Dr. Veatch didn’t have ties to the mob. What are you even talking about? It was probably just a stray bullet from some random drug shooting over in the park.”

“I don’t know, Heather,” Sarah says, looking dubious. “You said the shot went directly through the back of his head. Stray bullets don’t tend to do that. I think he was shot on purpose, and by someone who knew him.”

“Or was hired to kill him,” Sebastian suggests. “Like by the president’s office, to throw off our talks.”

“That’s what I was saying!” Sarah cries, delighted.

“A’ight?” Sebastian seems pleased with himself. Pleased enough not to remember that he’s from Grosse Pointe. And Caucasian. “Shit, yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.”

“All right,” I say. “Out. Both of you. Now.”

Sebastian stops smiling. “Aw, come on, Heather. You have to admit, the man was cold. Remember when he yelled at you about the paper?”

Now I glare at Sarah. I can’t believe she told him that.

“Does everyone have to keep bringing that up?” I demand. “And he didn’t yell, he—”

“Whatever,” Sarah interrupts. “Heather’s the one who found the body, Sebastian. She’s understandably shaken. I’m supposed to be keeping her company until the cops are ready to interrogate her. She had a known grudge against the victim on account of the paper thing.”

“I am not shaken,” I cry. “I’m fine. And no one’s going to interrogate me. I—”

“Oh, shit,” Sebastian says, reaching out to rest a hand on my shoulder. “Sorry about that. You all right? Can I get you anything from the café? Hot tea, or something?”

“Ooooh,” Sarah says. “I’ll take a coffee. And cake, if there’s any.”

“Sarah!” I’m shocked.

“Well, whatever, Heather,” she says, looking annoyed. “If he’s offering. When the GSC strikes—as we will, shortly—our meal plans will probably be taken away, so I’m not wasting my declining dollars if someone else is offering to pay for my—”

“Heather!” Gavin McGoren, lanky film student, junior, and building resident with an unrequited—and unfortunate—crush on me, appears in the storage room doorway, out of breath and panting. “Oh my God, Heather. There you are. Are you all right? I just heard. I came as fast as I could—”

“McGoren, just the man I want to see,” Sebastian says. “I need someone to work the mikes for the rally in the park tomorrow night. You up for it?”

“Sure, whatevs,” Gavin says, letting his backpack slump to the floor, but keeping his gaze on me. “Is it true? Was he really a victim of a random drug shooting? I knew it was dangerous not to have those street-level windows bricked up. You do realize it could easily have been you, don’t you, Heather?”

“Cool it, Gavin,” Sarah says. “She’s skeeved out enough. What are you trying to do, make things worse?”

“Oh my God,” I say. “I am not skeeved out. I mean, I am. But—look, do we have to talk about this?”

“Of course we don’t have to talk about it, Heather,” Sarah says, in her most soothing voice. Then, to Sebastian and Gavin, she says, “Guys, please leave Heather alone. Finding a corpse—particularly one belonging to someone with whom you worked as closely as Heather worked with Dr. Veatch—can be very unsettling. It’s likely Heather will suffer from post-traumatic stress for some time. We’re going to need to watch her for signs of unexplainable aggressiveness, depression, and emotional detachment.”

“Sarah!” I’m appalled. “Would you please zip it?”

She says, in the same soothing voice, “Of course, Heather.” Then, to the boys, she stage whispers, “What did I tell you about unexplainable aggressiveness?”

“Sarah.” I seriously need an aspirin. “I totally heard that.”

“Uh.” Sebastian is looking at his feet. “How long does this post-traumatic stress thing usually last?”

“It’s impossible to say,” Sarah says, at the same time that I say, “I donot have post-traumatic stress.”

“Oh,” Sebastian says, looking at me, now, instead of his feet. “Well, good. Because I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

I groan. “Not you, too.”

“She doesn’t date students,” Gavin informs him. “I already tried. It’s like a policy, or something.”

I drop my head into my hands. Seriously. How much more can I take in one day? It’s bad enough I actually jogged this morning (only for a few steps, but still. I could have dislodged something. I still don’t know. All my lady parts seemed to have been working fine back at Tad’s, when we took them for a test run. But how can you ever be sure without a visit to the gyno?), but now my boss has been shot, my office taken over by CSI: Greenwich Village, and Gavin McGoren is expounding on the official New York College stand on student-employee relations? I want those two and a half hours of sleep I missed out on back.

“Uh, I wasn’t going to ask her out, dude,” Sebastian says. “I was going to ask her if she could come to our rally tomorrow night.”

I separate my fingers and peer out at him from between them. “What?”

“Come on,” Sebastian pleads, throwing himself onto his knees. “You’re Heather Wells. It would mean a lot if you’d show up, maybe lead us in a little round of ‘Kumbaya’—”

“No,” I say. “Absolutely not.”

“Heather,” Sebastian says. “Do you have any idea how much it would mean to the GSC if we had a celebrity of your stature come out in support of us?”

“Come out in support—” I echo weakly, dropping my hands. “Sebastian, I could lose my job for that!”

“No, you couldn’t,” Sebastian says. “Freedom of speech! They wouldn’t dare!”