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The therapist nodded with oily sympathy. He was young, surprisingly young. A small, dark skinned man of indeterminate ethnicity with a well groomed beard just barely starting to gray at the tip. His eyes were old though, and Hawthorne had some trouble holding eye contact for very long.
The therapist scribbled some notes and spoke, "Tell me about it."
"Why? You've read the file," Hawthorne said. "No, I know, you want my version of events. I don't mean to be snappy doctor, but I've been trying to avoid thinking about it."
The doctor pursed his lips "and has that been at all successful?"
"No," Hawthorne admitted, "it's like trying to ignore an itch at the back of your neck."
"I know how that is," the man said, and for the first time Hawthorne saw a glimmer of honest sympathy behind the doctor's steely professionalism. He found himself warming to the doctor despite himself. Certainly, Hawthorne thought, I must be a little scary when I'm on the job. We're all just professionals trying to hack it.
The doctor added, "Why don't we do this? Just give me the abridged version. If you feel you can't continue, we can stop for as long as you want. I'm permanent staff, so there's no time limit here."
"Yeah," Hawthorne nodded. This guy was good. "Yeah, okay. That's fair." He took a breath. "Like the file probably says, the mission was supposed to be a routine snatch and grab. We've had reports from this prep-school in Connecticut, and the signs pointed to Witchcraft," Hawthorne shrugged. "Cheerleaders going missing, teachers behaving strangely, girls showing up smelling like sulfer...we figured it'd be simple. Do recon, find out who the targets are, wait for them to start a seance and then kick in the door. Standard procedure."
"But something went wrong," the doctor offered.