Watching as the people Jeremy had been talking to turned to look at me, I said, “I saw the YouTube video where he said he planned to join the Heroes’ League. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Jeremy grinned. “I guess we’ll see what happens. He struck me as small time compared to the League.”
The girl next to Jeremy elbowed him. “Small time? He’s from Los Angeles. Everybody looks small time there unless they’re part of SoCal Defenders. I’m sure he’s been in more fights than the new kids in the Heroes’ League.”
Still carrying a box full of my books, Haley raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure about that? They’ve been around for a couple years now.”
It was a strange scene. The girl stood a little taller than Jeremy with broad shoulders and black hair that went halfway down her back. She wore jeans and a flannel shirt.
That put her almost a foot taller than Haley. She looked Haley in the eyes, saying, “I follow his YouTube channel. He’s fought Syndicate L, gangs, and supervillains. There’s no way you’d find as many of them here, and there’s no way they could be as tough.”
Haley’s eyes narrowed, but all she said was, “Could be.”
I felt sure that she didn’t want to let this go. I knew I didn’t, but it wasn’t as if we had any chance of convincing her without revealing ourselves or risking it.
To Jeremy I said, “I guess I’ll see you in the room.”
To the rest I said, “I’ll see you later.”
Haley and I walked up the stairs, finally making it to my room. I pulled out the key and opened the door.
The room looked exactly as we’d left it last spring–bare tile floors, wooden bunk beds with old mattresses that I didn’t give any serious inspection to. This was probably for the best.
Whatever else was true, Jeremy plainly hadn’t made it up yet. I set about putting my clothes into the dresser I’d used last year. Haley put the box of books on top of my desk.
Then she frowned. “Kid Biohack’s got to be great because… Los Angeles!”
Her eyes had turned catlike–slitted and yellow. She sighed. “When everyone was here we fought the Cabal, Syndicate L, and Ray’s crew. Then last year we fought Rook, saved St. Louis and possibly the world. And that’s just with the whole League. When you were on Stapledon weekends, we fought aliens, gangs and a few supervillains by ourselves.”
“I know,” I said. “She’s a civilian. She doesn’t know all of that. Not all of it made the news, and a lot of people don’t pay attention to the stuff that does.”
Haley frowned again. “I know, but it’s irritating.” She walked to the door. “We should get the rest of your stuff.”
“Um…” I said. “Your eyes. They’re changed.”
She rolled her eyes. By the time they came down, they’d changed back, color turning as I watched.
All I could say was, “Wow.”
She gave a brief grin. “I’d like to think I’ve learned something about controlling my change by now.” She paused. “But still bugs me that I shifted without thinking. I don’t think I do that with anyone else.”
“I hope not.” I followed her out the door and back to the van for more of my stuff.
The next time we came back up Jeremy was in the room. He was putting his own clothes in drawers. I, meanwhile, had walked in with my bedsheets, comforter, and pillow. Dumping them on the bed, I asked, “So when you said Kid Biohack was coming to Grand Lake University, did you mean that he was actually attending classes or did you just mean he was coming to the city?”
Behind me, Haley shut the door.
Jeremy stood up and stepped away from the dresser. “Jillian told me one of his videos said he’d be taking classes.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Taking classes as who? Kid Biohack or whatever his real name is?”
Jeremy scratched his head. “You know, I’m not sure, but taking classes in a costume doesn’t seem very smart.”
“Telling people that you’re going to take classes if you’re going to take classes as yourself doesn’t seem very smart either.” I ran through possibilities in my head. “Of course, it might be misdirection. If people are looking for him here, they might not be looking too closely at some other guy moving in from California.”
“Or maybe he doesn’t care about a secret identity? Maybe he’s got a fake identity set up?” Haley shrugged. “I don’t know how much that would help him. If I smelled him, it would be all over, but I guess he might be able to change his scent with a name like that.”
Leaning against the bed, Jeremy folded his arms over his chest. “I’d go with doesn’t care about a secret identity. You know how much some of these guys put online? Everything. You could learn something from him. If he fought a dragon, he wouldn’t wait for a month and release it, he’d rename the day he fought it ‘Dragon Day’ and remind people of it every year on the anniversary.”