"I'm having fun watching you eat. Mirror neurons." The girl taps the side of her head with an impish smile. "Seeing someone else do something makes you experience it too. All of the cheese-flavored memories, none of the fat. But I appreciate the offer. "Man, if Leo could patent that, he'd make a fortune. 'Here, let me much on this celery while I think about cheetos.' It would be like printing money." He cocks a blond eyebrow. "Y'know, Leo's got a lot of ideas. Maybe we could both make some money out of that." He stops. "I mean, wow, that sounded pretty Gordon Gekko. What I mean is, I've got ties to an organization that deals with turning hypertechnology into commercially viable products. Maybe we could do something so Leo doesn't have to crash on people's couches." He munches on his pizza. "Maybe when things settle down." He rolls his eyes. "It's natural to worry. And you worry so much about your friends, Jason. It means you care, and that's good. But you know you can overdo it too, don't you. Jason shrugs, uncomfortably. "Yyyeah. I know. I -- I'm kind of winging this? I mean, when we --" He pauses, then continues, voice a bit lower. "When my family, when we were together, we all watched each other's back, but Dad was there, setting policy. Rusty was there, shooting people. I just had to make sure Brigand was on the Dragonfly before we fled the collapsing alien island spaceship thing, or be Amir's 'buddy' so that we didn't leave him behind, or leave me behind. Being in charge, taking the responsibility --" He tears off a piece of pizza with particular vehemence. "It's tough to triangulate. Am I worrying too much? Am I worrying enough? Am I driving myself nuts worrying about others? Should I worry more about me? Adam's dad --" Another pause. "He didn't quite say that I wasn't worrying enough about Adam. Or the team. Maybe I shouldn't pay attention to him -- what does he know? But he's a cop, and Adam's dad, and maybe he does know." He looks over at Numina. "And if I make a mistake, people could die. My people -- my friends. It's not something I want to 'err' about, y'know?" Her smile falters, and her eyes pinch up a little. "I'm actually not taking things all that well. I've lived without a material body before, briefly. It's mostly that..." For someone who encouraged free and open discussion, she hesitates for a long time. "The incarnate Pneuma rejected me. I rejected myself. So now who am I? That's what I have to struggle with, unless she changes her mind. The way she's depicted her experience, I'm not fully sure whether not I'd want to merge too. And that's difficult. And not just on us." She doesn't name names, but doesn't have to. "Choosing who to be, feeling like you're a real person.. it's something I'm still working on anyway. This incident just felt like a big step backward. You telling me you didn't see me as real hurt too. But, I'm more grateful you were honest with me, and you recognized that and apologized. Thank you for that. I don't know if all this is 'messed up' enough for me to be part of your group, but it's all I can offer right now." She finishes the explanation by mustering up a faint smile, but not a false one. Jason looks stricken. "Jesus. That's -- not what I -- well, yeah, it's what I meant, but not what I meant. And ... I said it was stupid to think that way. And it was. I --" He snorts. "People worry all this stuff I've been doing with AIs is going to mean I get mixed up and think unreal things are real. I think it's the other way around, if my having this broad of a continuum means I mistake things that real as less real than they are --" He pauses, looks up, Did I say that right?, and nods. "-- then that's an even bigger problem." He walks over toward her, stopping a few feet away. "You're real , Numina. You're as real as I am, in how it counts. You're not ... human , because your perceptions, your experience, are so different. But, I mean, we've got a ghost, and someone with space alien voices in his head, and someone who can run down for pizza and be back before I can get the red peppers out, and a cartoon character leader, and all that. 'Human' isn't a job requirement. You're ... real. Please poke me with something if I make that mistake again. I mean it. His jaw works for a moment. "I've been treated as something not quite real. It's -- not something I want to do to anyone else."