Her heart fluttered as Dr. Knightfall's voice reached her ears, and her lips curled into an involuntary smile, faint, but real. That voice was the first taste of anything even remotely resembling genuine warmth and concern for months. Still, June was unable to meet the doctor's eyes.
How many patients had Ashley seen missing the entirety of their faces? How many flayed while they still lived, possessing only just enough constitution to survive until they could be brought in to die on one of her tables? Spite jumped in her heart. So too did relief, and something else. You could've been like them, something whispered in her ear. You still could, said another. Those men were his victims, and no more; yet somehow, as reminders of him, the mutilated bodies themselves felt like all-seeing eyes keeping watch over her. She pulled into herself, wrapping her arms around her body as she proceeded along. Normally observant eyes made only sweeping looks around the facility. Never direct, never at anyone or anything. Always gazing through. Never making contact with anyone else's, her eyes never veered above the height of anyone's neck.
After what she'd been through at the temple even stale coffee would've been as good as a gardenia's fragrance. But even inside Knightfall's office, all she could smell was the pungent blood wafting in through the walls and from her clothes. Pulling the thick frames from her face, June pretended to clear her glasses, prompted by some newfound meekness as well as a desire to buy time while she searched for an excuse. "U-um, sorry I was gone, Dr. Knightfall," she stammered, retreating even further into herself as she felt Ashley's eyes comb over her body. "School field trip." Far beneath even her worst lie, previously. "But I'm ready to get back to work."