Precision: Part 3

I texted back, “I’m awake.”

It had barely been sent when my phone began to buzz. I took the call.

“Hey, Nick!” Cassie answered with her normal level of energy—high. She didn’t sound like she was faking it.

“Hey,” I said, suddenly more aware that the wooden chair I sat in lacked cushions. “So what’s going on?”

“What I said in the text… You know Vaughn and Amy are going out, right?”

“Yeah. They started near the end of the summer.”

Jeremy lay down in his bed. He’d picked up his phone and started tapping on the screen instead of sleeping. I considered going out in the hall to talk, but then it occurred to me that we might get into team stuff… I stayed in the chair.

“How do you think they’re doing?” Cassie asked in a calmer tone than she normally used.

“I don’t know. Vaughn’s here. Amy’s… She’s from Florida, but she’s at Duke with Samita, right? That’s what I thought I heard—”

“That’s right,” Cassie said.

“Anyway, it was only supposed to be a summer thing. That’s what Amy said. She didn’t sound like she was up for a long distance relationship.”

“It looks like they’ve got one.” Cassie lapsed into silence.

When it began to feel overly long, I said, “I suppose being attacked by that dragon and his army was more of a bonding experience than they expected.”

“Right,” Cassie sighed. “Too bad I was on the other side.”

“Not for long, and it wasn’t your fault.” I thought back to facing her as well as Daniel and Izzy in the passageway in the Castle Rock compound. It wasn’t something I wanted to repeat.

“You know the crazy thing?” Cassie didn’t wait for me to reply. “The gun knew something was wrong and kept on telling me so. When an alien AI that wants to burn all living things tells you something is wrong, you should listen. I should have listened.”

“I don’t know. How often is the gun right about anything that doesn’t involve killing?”

Cassie laughed. “No kidding, but it was right this time. Or so it tells me again and again.”

“Ouch. That’s got to get old.”

“No shit,” Cassie said. “I can tell it to stop, but it can still hint at it, and if I tell it to stop that, we get into an endless game of rules lawyering. So now I just let it talk.”

Conscious of the phone in my hand, and that Jeremy had to be listening to my half of the conversation, I wondered if that was it. Cassie sounded better than she had. She hadn’t ever sounded bad, but maybe like she was hiding something? I’d always wondered if she and Vaughn had ever been more than friends.

Anyway, complaining about the gun sounded completely honest and normal.

After a moment, Cassie added, “I hope you don’t think I’m going to cause problems because they’re dating. I’m not. I like Amy, and I’ve been friends with Vaughn for ages. It’s just that it all feels weird even though it shouldn’t.

“Before the League got together Vaughn and I were hanging out a lot, and we did more than hang out a few times. We were beginning to talk about whether we were more than that, but then his parents sent him to rehab and I started the Goldstein process to jump start my powers. By the end of it, we weren’t seeing each other much at all.”

“Wow,” I switched my phone from one ear to the other. “I didn’t know that was going on in the background.”

“There wasn’t any reason to talk about it, but Haley might remember. She was dating Sean, and he was friends with Vaughn. She might not want to talk about it much.”

Knowing how Haley’s relationship with Sean had ended, I could see that. “I’ve never had a reason to ask her about it.”

Cassie gave a short laugh. “There isn’t one. Sorry about going confessional on you. I feel stupid about all of this. I want them to be happy, but wish Vaughn and I had gotten to try something instead of what happened.”

“I get that. It sounds like a mess.”

“Never mind it, though. I’ll work it out, and I’ll let you get to bed. You need the sleep.”

“Ok, but if you want to talk about it, you can still call me.”

“Sure,” she said, and we hung up a little later.

As I put down my phone and walked toward my bed, Jeremy said, “That sounded interesting.”

“Nothing big,” I said. “Relationship stuff that I’m hoping doesn’t affect the team.”

“No kidding?” Jeremy leaned out and put his own phone on the top of his desk’s bookshelf.

“I probably shouldn’t go into it.”

I was about to lie down in bed when my phone beeped. The bots had detected more speedster movement. It was beginning to feel like something would be happening soon.

17 thoughts on “Precision: Part 3”

    1. And in case you’re interested, Legion’s been at 5th place for much of the end of last week through to today. That’s better than normal in place and in votes.

  1. “I don’t know why I’d ask her about it.”

    “There’s not much of one”

    Seems like kind of a non sequitor. Maybe at some point in the writing process the first line was something like “I don’t know if I had a reason to ask her about it”?

  2. Well, considering most romantic relationships don’t work out, at least Nick can be comforted to know that some of his teammates will have messy breakups. Maybe even Nick, considering that Evil Beatnick brought out his inner desire for more women. And that time it turned out his best friend’s mother had been hanging out in his dreams. And I think the one with the super voice had a thing for Rocket a couple years back, too.

    It all goes to show that things can get very, very messy when hormonal teens start throwing bodily fluids at each other. Good thing they’re only responsible for saving the world!

    Also, something I meant to bring up lately with Kid Bioquack: is there really a person on earth who doesn’t know the guy in the black suit is the Rocket? Seems like he’s spent most of LoN in the stealth suit because his main one is always getting wrecked.

    1. You’re right. Lots of people are aware of that, possibly most people who follow capes. I’d chosen to have Kid Biohack be unaware to emphasize his lack of concern for very many things outside of himself.

        1. At least as far as I remember, Nick hasn’t worn the stealth suit in situations where he’s directly said that he’s the Rocket, forcing people to guess that he probably is. Thus, I’m viewing it as a thing that people who pay attention to supers are aware of, but something that people who don’t are not.

          Thus, the classmates he overheard aren’t into capes.

  3. “When an alien AI that wants to burn all living things tells you some thing’s wrong, you should listen.”

    Sounds like she went all “Krieg Death Korps” (WH40k); When your commissar is the voice of reason, you know your priorities are “interesting”…

    1. Clearly, you’ve never had the good fortune to run across Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium!

      “As I try to impress on the young whelps in my charge these days, it isn’t the scarlet sash and the fancy hat that makes you a commissar, it’s the way you wear them. The troops you serve with are never going to like you, but if you can get them to respect you that can be almost as good. Remember, you’re going to spend most of your career on a battlefield with them, and they’ve all got guns, so making them think you’re a liability is never going to be a very good idea.” – Ciaphas Cain

  4. “When an alien AI that wants to burn all living things tells you some thing’s wrong, you should listen.”

    Extraneous space in “something’s”.

      1. A bit late responding to this, and I might find an answer in the chapters I haven’t read yet, but if Jeremy is recording it, he may not be doing so of his own volition. Mind control is a thing. Just because he has one set of mental controls on him doesn’t mean he can’t have another.

        On the far side of possibility is the possibility that there is another superperson out there with skills a lot like Nick’s, who has co-opted the smartphones of every college student in the US in order to try and figure out the secret identities of the college-age superheroes.

        In essence, a virus that turns everyone’s smartphones into spybots.

        All sorts of ways that Nick might get spied on by Jeremy, even if Jeremy doesn’t know he’s doing it.

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