We talked more after that, but not much worth repeating.
What can you say that tops, “I’m an alien on the run from my people who, by the way, commit genocide as a hobby, and might stop by any day now?”
Near the end of lunch, I got a text message from Daniel. It said, “Dad says come by any time.”
Daniel’s dad had come home the day before. Major operations were over, the aliens contained or destroyed, and the Defenders could handle mopping up without him.
Rachel dropped me off at Daniel’s house. Daniel opened the door.
It felt like the first time in ages that I’d been over. In some ways it had.
I’d spent most of spring trying to pinpoint the problem with the Rocket suit’s arm that actually turned out to be in the chest, plus making more roachbots, and the communicators. We’d all spent a lot of time practising with Lee. Between that, graduation, end of the semester papers, and assignments, I struggled to think of the last time we’d just hung out.
“I know,” Daniel said. “I keep on waiting for the next call, the one that says Ray’s not dead, and the Cabal’s back, and we’ve all got to scramble or die.”
“Exactly. I’ve been waiting for that too.”
“Dad’s in his office.” Daniel pointed down the hall. The basement door wasn’t far. “You know what we ought to do? Get together and watch movies like we did last summer.”
“I’d bet we’d get more people most nights this time around.”
“Count on it. Last summer we all barely knew each other. We can call Cassie after you’re done talking to my Dad.”
I went down to his office, noticing Daniel’s younger brother, and sister sitting on the couch in front of the TV in the basement.
His sister flashed the word, “hi” into my mind as I passed, but neither of them made any attempt to stop watching Nickelodeon. Presumably that episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender must have been particularly good. More likely, as with many little kids, they couldn’t see any reason to stop watching TV.
I thought, “hi” back at her, but didn’t assume she’d be listening for a response. Walking a little further into the basement, I stepped into the office.
It wasn’t some kind of official superhero’s office. No trophies, keys to the city, or momentos from famous cases hung on the walls.
Shelf after shelf of books covered every available space. Most of them had to do with law, history, or political science, but the especially worn looking books had to do with religion, specifically Judaism. After World War 2, Daniel’s grandfather (the Mentalist) had become a rabbi. Daniel’s dad had kept the books.
Half of them weren’t even in English.
The dark, wooden bookshelves went all the way to the ceiling, but a few framed pictures had their own place. Most of them showed Mr. Cohen’s friends, either from law school or his time in army intelligence. One showed a few of them standing in front of a graffiti covered section of the Berlin wall. He’d been there before it fell.
He sat behind his desk, standing up, and closing his laptop as I walked through the door.
“Nick,” he held out his hand, and we shook. “How are you doing?”
“I just got back from seeing Lee,” I said.
He nodded. “And he told you what he really is, and your head is still spinning.”
“Yeah, I’d ask how you knew, but that’s obvious.”
He laughed. “I didn’t need telepathy for that. You turned eighteen today. That’s part of the deal. You need to know.”
“Who else knows? Everybody but me?”
“The original League, plus Larry, and I. There might be a few other people.”
“It’s really crazy. What am I supposed to do now? I’m obviously supposed to keep on learning from him, but am I also supposed to watch him in case he accidentally summons the end of everything?”
“No. That’ll happen, or it won’t. He’s managed to stay out of sight for a few thousand years now. I’m willing to trust he can do it for a few thousand more. In the short term, I look at it this way, any time he spends teaching you kids is time he’s not working as a mercenary. Think of it as your personal contribution to global stability.”
“I can see that.”
“Good. So what’s the real reason you’re here today?”
“I originally planned to talk about Sean. He basically murdered Ray, and I’m not at all sure what to do about it.”