I thought about that. With everything that had happened between the two of us, I still didn’t see Sean as evil. I did think he was massively, hugely messed up. From what I’d seen, his father was close to, if not actually, abusive, and had cheated on Sean’s mom with at least one person (Camille’s mom), and maybe more. Growing up with someone like that wasn’t exactly a head start.
It wasn’t a surprise then that Sean had bullied people (I wasn’t the only one). After Haley told me about how their relationship ended, I’d overheard more stories about relationships he’d had. He’d sounded controlling, and manipulative.
Considered rationally, he wasn’t the kind of person I’d want around me.
When I was honest with myself though, it wasn’t because I’d thought things through rationally that I didn’t want him around. It was because I thought he was a jerk.
From across the table, Cassie caught my eye. “Nick, are you there?”
She shrugged, “You didn’t seem to be paying attention.”
Feeling myself frown, I said, “I was. I got caught up in thinking about Sean. I don’t want him in the League, but if everyone else is included, and he’s not… Well, I just hope it doesn’t push him somehow. In a bad way, I mean.”
Daniel nodded thoughtfully. “It might.”
I began to open my mouth to ask about it, but he continued talking.
“For something like this though, I think it comes down to one question. If your life’s on the line, do you feel better knowing he’s got your back?”
That didn’t require a lot of thought.
“No,” I said. “To be fair, when we were fighting Rook, he did everything he was asked to even if he didn’t want to. On the other hand, if Flick hadn’t been there, I really think we’d have been arguing the whole time.”
Allowing a second for what I’d said to sink in, Daniel followed it up with, “If you don’t think you can work with him, that’s all the reason we need. This is life and death, not a club. I don’t think that we can stop by just saying ‘no’ though. I think that if he ever asks, he’s got to get honest feedback on why he wasn’t included. It won’t make him feel better, but it might make him think.”
Jaclyn took out a notepad, and wrote something down. “There’s something else we should think about. We need to have a formal process for bringing people in, and we should figure out what we’re going to tell them if we don’t. Some of them are going to argue, and Sean’s probably one of them. If we do have to tell him why he’s not welcome, let’s not have Nick be the bearer of that bad news.”
Maybe I should have been offended that she didn’t think I could handle it, but I wasn’t. I was relieved.
Not letting anyone else in to comment, she continued, “Who else should we think about?”
I had ideas. “Chris Cannon. He wasn’t interested before, but he did suit up when the Cabal’s people were after us. He didn’t have to, you know? Plus, if we do think we need a shapeshifter, we could call in Courtney. She knows who we are anyway.”
We spent the rest of the meal tossing around names. After that, we all went and hung around in Jaclyn’s room. She’d been assigned to room with someone named Brianna. Brianna’s twin sister Brittany had been assigned to room with Jenny Nakamura (Flame Legion) who I’d known for ages.
Brianna and Brittany had grown up in the San Francisco supers compound, and knew a lot of people themselves, most of whom seemed to come through the room.
We didn’t get any team business done after that.
* * *
The next morning was all wrong for a Saturday. I had to report to the gym in full armor by 6am—which meant that I had to be at the cafeteria by five something if I wanted to eat.
I decided not to. I didn’t feel hungry. Plus putting the Rocket suit on took time, and I needed to be on time because Lee (as Günther) was expecting me to lead drills and exercises for part of the class.
That’s how I found myself standing in the armory off of the gym at 5:43am. It held weapons of all kinds—swords, spears, pistols, rifles, and more. As of the day before, it also held the Rocket suit.
I pulled it out of it’s packaging in pieces, very much wishing that the technology I’d been working on for Cassie’s suit was ready for primetime. Putting on the Rocket suit took ten minutes, five if I didn’t bother to check connections as I went.
Plus, all the pieces were heavier than they looked. They weren’t as heavy as they could have been, or even as they used to be, but they were heavy enough.
Staring at the pieces on the floor, I considered whether I’d be better off lying down on the back of the chest section and then pulling the breastplate over my front, or, whether I might be able to put it on while standing.
Back in HQ, I had couple steel frames where the big pieces could hang. It made it easier. Unfortunately, they weren’t the kind of thing I could easily pack up.
As I decided I might as well lay down, no matter how silly it would look, a voice behind me said, “Do you need any help?
Turning, I saw Tara standing in the doorway. In a blue, subtly armored unitard, and with her normal, blond hair color, she didn’t look quite like she had in the video Jeremy showed me.
What was the same was that she stood about my height, if not a little taller, and even if she didn’t look like a bodybuilder, the way she stood gave an impression of strength.
Rachel had told me that Tara was bubbly, but if so, she wasn’t in that moment.
“Help would be great,” I said.