The next day wasn’t much better.
You know how in the Harry Potter books, there always seems to be some period in which Malfoy struts around as if he owns the school? That’s what happened with Sean. And not just Sean, everybody in Justice Fist got attention.
Sean, Dayton, Jody, Camille, and Julie seemed to be surrounded with people all day. Even the teachers seemed to want to hear about it.
I passed a huge clot in the hall as I went to Mr. Beacham’s class. Some girl around Sean said something about “knees?”
Sean shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s a Heroes League thing.”
I could have explained, but I didn’t.
There had been more of them than I’d realized. The newspaper and radio stations reported it as fifty. Most of them had ended up in the hospital, many of them with broken knees.
Lee often said, “If you can’t walk, you can’t fight.”
While it wasn’t true if you could fly or had energy powers, it was true for most people, most of the time.
I knew I’d kicked a few during the fight, and it sounded like the rest of the team had too. I’d also broken a lot of ribs, and collarbones.
Despite Mr. Beacham’s best efforts, I had a hard time paying attention in class. He was a good teacher, but not good enough to compete with what was going on in my head.
On Sean’s way into the room, I had accidentally made eye contact with him. He smiled at me, and my pen rolled off my desk, bouncing two rows over.
The girl in the next desk passed it back to me, and I swapped it for one with a plastic body.
Evidently his statement that he had better things to do than worry about me no longer applied.
I held on to the pen, took notes, and hoped he didn’t do more.
* * *
I rode my bike straight to Grandpa’s house after school. I still had to repair the suit(s?), design the communicators, and I’d had some ideas about mass producing roachbots I wanted to try.
Not to mention that school had sent home a pile of graduation related paperwork. I had to fill it out, and better to fill it out someplace quiet.
Except… HQ wasn’t quiet.
Marcus sat at the command console, having thrown his monitor’s contents to the wall screen. He had opened at least eight windows to recorded sessions from the houses and cars of Vaughn’s cousins and descendants from Red Lightning’s group.
I walked past one of the stacks of boxes, and made my way to the front of the room where he sat.
“I didn’t expect to see you here.”
He looked up. “Nick. I’m running through the latest stuff.”
He clicked on a mouse button, and the largest of the windows paused. It showed Sean’s dad standing in the kitchen. The two windows next to it showed other spots in the house.
“I’m glad someone is. With everything else going on, I kind of forgot about it.”
“Yeah, me too. Rachel and I have been swapping off, and I skipped a few days, but after last night, I thought I’d get back to it.”
“Have you learned anything?”
“Nothing important… Just personal stuff. Like Sean’s dad is a total jerk.”
“Wait. Did he just turn into a jerk in the last two weeks?”
“I think he’s always been a jerk. Like this video? It’s from last week, but there’s a dozen more like it. Sean’s sister… Her name’s Sydney. She just asked for permission to go on a date, and he went off on her, called her names you wouldn’t believe. My parents get angry with us, but they never do anything like that.”
“Does he… hit them?”
“No, but what he does is bad enough.”
He clicked on the mouse again, and Sean’s sister left the room, crying — or so I assumed. The sound was off.
Just a moment before she walked off camera, she turned around and flipped him off. Another window’s camera showed Sean’s dad shouting more in response. I thought I read a couple of the words from his lips. If they were what I thought they were, I’d never even heard my parents say them.
“Is he like this with Sean too?”
“Oh, yeah. Sometimes he’s decent to them too, but then he overdoes it, like he got Sean a new car out of nowhere. Something’s messed up there.”
“Do you think she’s been through the Impregnator?” I asked, and then I thought about what I’d said.
“That sounds really wrong when you’re talking about a girl, but no, I don’t know.”
He closed out that window, and clicked on another, that one showing a meeting with Russell Hardwick and Justice Fist’s parents in the living room of somebody’s house.
It enlarged to fill the spot that Sean’s father had been in, but didn’t play.
“Sydney’s kind of cute,” Marcus commented.
Thinking about her, I could see his point.
“Aren’t you with Latisha?”
“It’s Lakisha, and I’m not with her. We went on a date to prom, but we aren’t dating.”
“You’re not going to ask Sydney out, are you?”
“No. I don’t even know her. Besides, what if she’s psycho like everybody else in the family?”
His eyes widened for a second. “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the best bit about Sean’s dad. Look at this person.” He pointed at a woman in Russell Hardwick’s group that I’d guessed might be Hispanic.
“Red Lightning worked with the Fillipino resistance to the Japanese occupation, and he helped a couple he knew there immigrate to the US. She’s their daughter. She works with Sean’s dad at one of the Hardwicks’ companies. Her daughter is Camille, or Gravity Star if she’s in costume with Justice Fist. Guess who Camille’s dad is?”
He pulled a picture of her up on the screen. Her face reminded me of Sydney, and of Sean’s dad, and she had a lighter complexion than her mom.
“You got it. Rachel found a bit of video of the two of them talking after a meeting. Crazy, right?”
“Really crazy. Does Sean know?”
“I don’t think so.”