Bobby Soul used to have a sister. Two years his senior, he and Mali took care of each other when their deadbeat mother would not. They did alright for themselves. However, that all ended one day when Mali was kidnapped on her way home from school. Her naked body was later found in a dumpster. She was sixteen.
As Bobby Soul witnesses the tableau of some shirtless thug waving a pistol and standing over the dying Tatiana, he cannot help but remember Mali. Kiden kneels down and applies pressure to Tatiana’s bullet wound, while Bobby goes for the attacker. He lunges at him, knocking him to the ground, and rips the gun out of his hand. The flurry of punches that follow nearly knock the thug unconscious. The whole time, Bobby cannot stop thinking about Mali.
His mother once told him to be the man of the house. At fourteen, that was difficult, especially since he was up against the men his mother brought home. One such man saw Mali and decided he wanted to have his way with her, too. If that was his mother’s definition of a “man”, Bobby wanted nothing to do with it. He even worried his father, whom he never knew, may have been cut from that same cloth. Nothing terrified Bobby more than becoming one of those monsters.
Kiden interrupts him and tells him to stop punching. They need him alive, she says. Bobby steadies his fists.
After Mali died, he almost left home, he recalls. By then, however, he had a little brother to raise. Lil’ Bro was all smiles back then, a chatterbox like the older sister he barely knew. That ended the day his mother left Lil’ Bro alone with another of her boyfriends. Bobby Soul was the one who found them. He struggles to suppress the memory of what he saw and especially what he did to that man. That was the first time he possessed another person’s body. It had permanent consequences. Since that day, Lil’ Bro hasn’t spoken a word.
“Y’know,” Kiden says, picking up the thug’s handgun, “…I think I like this gun.” After brandishing it for a moment, she kneels over the battered thug and shoves the barrel into his mouth. The man makes some garbled noises; Kiden asks if she heard correctly. Did he just order her to do something? Maybe Bobby damaged the man’s brain. After all, he is in no position to bark orders. The way Kiden sees it, she’s in charge, and if this thug thinks Tatiana stealing his face was scary, just wait until he sees what Kiden can do. “Try not to scream,” she says. “I’ll take it slow.”
She pulls the gun out of his mouth. He immediately asks her what she wants to know. Kiden asks where they took Cameron Palmer, but the thug doesn’t know; he passed her off to someone else. The only things he knows about their employer are that he has multiple tattoos and pays in cash. He doesn’t know the man’s name. They brought Cameron to Empire State, the same place they met the guy. Kiden begins to ask if he’s lying, but Bobby interrupts her with other news: Tatiana, having reverted back to her old body, is awake.
Suddenly, the apartment door opens, and a group of gangsters enter with their lady friends. D’Sean asks the ladies which they would rather do first: eat, or get naked? His associate, meanwhile, calls out for Frankie, but after pushing open the bedroom door, sees him lying under the point of Kiden’s gun. D’Sean immediately addresses Bobby, whom he recognizes. It takes the gangsters only a moment to decide how to deal with these intruders. They draw their guns and take aim.
Bobby Soul tries to possess one of them, but hesitates. Each possession takes a piece of his soul, after all. He often wonders if he will possess someone, but not find his way back home. Fortunately, Kiden takes action. After hoisting Lil’ Bro into her arms, she places her left foot in Tatiana’s hand, and with her free hand, clasps fingers with Bobby. The guns fire. Kiden triggers her mutant ability just before the bullets connect, locking the moment in place. Dumbfounded, Bobby stares at the slowly approaching bullets with a wide-eyed look on his face. “Jesus,” he says.
“Amen,” Kiden replies. Bobby asks if she knew she could take others with her. She didn’t. Obviously they need to get out of there, but Kiden worries what will happen if she lets go of her friends. So, while maintaining a constant, physical connection, they lift Tatiana off the ground and exit the apartment.
As they leave, Bobby states that although he knows how he ended up with Kiden and Tatiana, he doesn’t know why he stays with them. No, that’s wrong. I do know, he corrects. I was lonely. I missed girls. I missed my sister. Sneaking by the motionless gangsters, Kiden implores Bobby to not touch any of them. Human touch wakes the world up, and can even be lethal. Anything else he needs to know, Bobby jokingly asks? Tatiana speaks up and coughs out a few words; she has something to tell them. Bobby asks her to hang tight.
To answer his initial question, Kiden warns Bobby of another threat in the pause-world: zombies. Whatever, he says, but Kiden insists; she urges him to beware the zombies’ foul and hairy spore. Again, whatever, Bobby says. He asks how far the pause-world extends; does it cover the entire world? Although Kiden doesn’t know, she does know she can spend an indefinite amount of time in it, without getting hungry or tired. She can’t even feel pain. “You just…drift,” she says. “Like a ghost.”
Bobby understands ghosts. He might even be one. Possession has become his answer to everything; it forces people to notice him, and helps him forget his own problems. I was so stupid, he thinks. As they near the hospital, Tatiana once again tries to speak up about what she learned from Frankie, but Bobby and Kiden do not listen. They approach the automatic door and prepare themselves for the inevitable commotion.
Kiden lets go and they storm through the door. They demand immediate help for Tatiana. While the doctors take her away, Tatiana informs Kiden she experienced all of Frankie’s memories; she even has a contact number. “555…4150…” she mutters repeatedly. The doctors ask Kiden to step away, while another questions Bobby what happened.
Meanwhile, on the hospital lobby’s television, a newscaster reports a story about the murder of an unregistered, 29 year-old mutant artist in Wyoming. Mutant rights groups apparently deemed her death an act of genocide against the dwindling mutant population.
A nurse approaches Bobby and asks about Tatiana’s gunshot wound. They were just walking down the street, he explains. Louise, a nurse, tells them Tatiana will be in surgery, and it will be a few hours before they know anything definitively. In the meantime, she suggests they take a seat; the police will surely have questions for them.
The news channel switches stories. Its next story concerns a local event: the disappearance of Cameron Palmer. According to the newscaster, authorities are seeking three teens for questioning who might be involved in her disappearance. The station flashes three pictures of Bobby Soul, Kiden Nixon, and Tatiana Caban, and urges anyone who sees them to immediately contact the authorities. Louise happens to see their photos and realizes who they are. As she turns to apprehend Kiden and Bobby, however, she sees they have already fled.
Later, in the quad of Empire State University, Kiden asks Bobby about his continued silence. He hasn’t said a word since they left the hospital. He tells her that their plan stinks; calling the number Tatiana discovered will only make them more of a target. What are they supposed to say when they call, anyway? Ask politely for Ms. Palmer? Kiden chides his cowardice, and assures him they won’t be hunted much longer. Everything will be alright. She leans in for hug, but notices the blood on both her and Bobby’s hands.
Before they can make the phone call, they need a phone, and Kiden knows exactly where to obtain one. Freezing time, she darts over to a couple’s table and swipes not only their cell phone, but their entire dinner. Afterward, she, Bobby, and Lil’ Bro find a place on the grass to sit and eat. Bobby begins dialing. What should he say, he asks? Kiden recommends a liberal use of expletives. Bobby informs her she just lost her babysitting privileges.
The phone begins ringing. Nearby, another cell phone receives an incoming call. The tattooed man with gold-capped canine teeth emerges from behind a tree. Boo, he says nonchalantly.
Meanwhile, in the hospital, the surgeons complete Tatiana’s surgery. Luckily, the bullet only hit her shoulder, with only some moderate tissue damage. One doctor remarks that Louise is convinced the patient is a criminal. Another doctor reminds her that Louise needs to get a life. They begin the blood transfusion. To their bewilderment, Tatiana’s body transforms into the body of a middle-aged, heavy-set white woman. Without having to be told, a nurse named Alice picks up the phone and dials the mutant registration hotline.
Back at the Empire State quad, Kiden shrugs her shoulders at the sight of their enemy; he doesn’t look so tough, she says. “Like you should talk,” the tattoo man quips back. He calls her a tatterdemalion, a waif, a punk, and a little mutant. He kidnapped their friend, Bobby reminds him, but the man asks if Bobby truly cares. Doesn’t his concern stem entirely from their implication on the kidnapping? “Are you a hypocrite, Bobby Soul? A good man?”
Why them, Kiden asks? Why single them out? Tattoo man replies that is his job; he softens things up as an introduction. “I push. I groom. Because all of this,” he says, “is just the beginning.” Beginning of what, Bobby asks? “Your survival,” the man answers.
Suddenly, Lil’ Bro’s eyes begin to glow. This time, he creates the illusion of a ferocious dragon battling a machine-man. Tattoo man chuckles. Bobby asks Kiden to get them out of there, but before she can respond, tattoo man sneaks up on her from behind and hits her over the head with the butt of his butterfly knife. She falls to the ground, unconscious. The man approaches Lil’ Bro next, but Bobby sternly tells him to stay away. “Or what?” the man laughs. “You’ll steal my body?” He knows how Bobby’s powers operate, and he knows Bobby will fall helpless as a baby should he possess his body. He might even forget everything including his little brother. “Is stopping me worth that price?” he asks. Again, Bobby orders him not to touch Lil’ Bro. Again, the man refuses. He might not be able to protect Lil’ Bro again, should something go wrong. He would be lost. Without Bobby, Lil’ Bro would be lost too.
I’m no one, except to my brother, Bobby thinks. Even he hardly notices I exist. But I made a promise. Never again. Never. No matter what. With that, he enters tattoo man’s body, and forces him to stab himself in the chest. The tattoo man slumps over, dead. Is this what it means to be a man, Bobby wonders? He doesn’t know. He begins drifting again, hoping someone, or something, will catch him and guide him back to his body.
Sometime later, Kiden wakes up from her faint, her vision still a bit blurry. She says hello to Lil’ Bro, the first person she sees upon waking. After telling him to take it easy, she gets up and walks over to Bobby, also just emerging from unconsciousness. Reaching out to take his had, she asks how he feels; he totally had her scared for a moment. However, he looks at her as he would a complete stranger. He curls up into the fetal position and clings to the wall. “Who are you?” he asks Kiden.