We’d said our goodbyes earlier, so when my sister Rachel and I got out of Dad’s SUV at the airport, we didn’t have much to say to our parents.
I popped the hatch, grabbed my suitcase and backpack and put them next to me in the drop-off area. I handed Rachel her suitcase (her backpack hung on her back), and shut the hatch.
We moved to the side of the vehicle. Mom had her window open.
Rachel said, “I’ve got everything. Nick?”
Dad smiled at us. “Enjoy your conference, and congratulations to both of you again. Full ride scholarships. That doesn’t happen to everyone.”
“Thanks, Dad. Now hurry and get out of here before airport security decides you’re terrorists.”
She glanced toward two men in blue uniforms standing next to a column.
“Rachel,” Mom said.
“Relax, Mom, they’re not even looking at us. Besides, you know what I mean. Five minutes.”
Signs hung on every metal column under the canopy. All of them said, “FIVE MINUTE LIMIT.”
Mom took a breath, and managed a smile. “We’ll see you in a week. Stay safe.”
“Bye, Mom,” I said, noting that she hadn’t congratulated us, and that she seemed a little worried.
Mom likely guessed we really weren’t going to a conference, and that our scholarships were more than scholarships.
Twenty minutes later we’d picked up our boarding passes, checked our luggage, and stood at Gate A7.
We weren’t alone.
Travis, my girlfriend’s older brother sat in one of the chairs, looking as tall and muscular as usual. In the row of chairs across from him sat Daniel, and Jaclyn.
Daniel waved to me. Rachel and I walked over.
“It’s not going to be long,” Daniel said. “I think we can board as soon as everyone gets here. Anyone know where Cassie and Vaughn are?”
“No idea,” I said.
Jaclyn closed her calculus book, and said to Daniel, “You don’t already know?”
Daniel shrugged and replied telepathically, They’re not in range.
Travis said, “Look who is here,” and quickly pointed past Daniel and Jaclyn.
Sean Drucker and his friends (Jody and Dayton) played cards next to the sitting area’s far wall. It seemed a good enough excuse to ignore us.
After last year, I was happy to be ignored. The guy wasn’t much more than a bully, and now he had powers.
Hey, Daniel said, Cassie and Vaughn are here—plus a couple more.
A few minutes later, they were, and they walked up talking with Julie and Shannon, a couple of Sean’s friends—or at least they had been last year. They didn’t make any effort to talk to Sean that I saw.
Shannon started a conversation with Rachel that lasted all the way through boarding the plane.
Life stopped feeling normal (at least for me) when we boarded the plane. It wasn’t in the “Platform 9 and 3/4 sense.” We didn’t have to walk through a wall, but I felt like I had when I saw the people in the plane.
When my grandfather retired from superhero work, he kept his hand in the game by creating and fixing devices for any hero who needed help. Some of them brought their kids. Sometimes he made house calls in the League jet, and took me along.
It felt like I recognized half the plane—mostly kids from the gated communities some supers had created so they could live without a secret identity.
They recognized me too, and not just me. A lot of people seemed to know Daniel, and some knew Travis and Jaclyn. Rachel must have visited more places than I’d remembered because people knew her too.
Even Cassie, who had been hidden to a degree, knew a few people, mostly from Washington D.C.
Vaughn got recognized too, but mostly from context. He acknowledged people with a smile.
For me, however, walking down the aisle turned into a chorus of “Hey Nick, it’s been years.”
It felt like years passed before I made it to my seat, but it was okay. It felt good to be remembered, and honestly to know people still remembered Grandpa.
I ended up sitting in the middle between Rachel and Cassie. Turning around to stow my backpack in the compartment, I noticed that Sean had been part of the line behind me, and must have been waiting as people tried to talk.
He passed my row without saying anything at all, but he didn’t seem happy.