I turned eighteen a few days later.
It had been an odd few days. After the fight, the police came, taking Ray and Gina away in a Box. They questioned Mom about her kidnapping too, and she went to the police station to answer questions without us.
Dad brought her home late on Thursday afternoon.
Rachel and I wanted to talk about it, but we couldn’t quite find the right moment. Theoretically we could have asked her at any time. Dad wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to the conversation with his block, but somehow using the block’s side effects to make Dad zone out right in front of Mom didn’t feel right.
We didn’t even try.
On Sunday night, Dad ran back to the office to grab something. Rachel watched an artsy movie with a lot of shadows in the family room while Mom grabbed leftover pizza from the refrigerator in the kitchen.
I’d grabbed a ham sandwich, and sat down on the sofa in the family room. I watched the movie for a few minutes, and then the actors started talking.
They were speaking French. I realized I’d have to follow the subtitles.
Rachel may have heard me groan, or maybe she’d been intending to pause the movie there. Either way, she got up, and walked into the kitchen.
With the counter being the only thing separating the family room and the kitchen, I heard everything.
“Mom, do you want to talk about Thursday? You know about what Nick and I are doing now.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t think I can handle it. Maybe later.”
Mom sounded tired.
I wondered if she’d ever want to talk about it.
When I went to bed, she was sitting in the living room, using her laptop.
I said goodnight, but nothing else, and she said goodnight, but didn’t volunteer anything either.
Then I walked up the stairs.
I didn’t know where Mom went on the Internet that weekend, but she couldn’t have watched the television or listened to the radio much.
Locally, we were the news.
The slant on what happened didn’t bear much of a resemblance to my experiences. The way the news told it, Prime’s people were working with Ray and Syndicate L to capture Vaughn’s uncle, Russell Hardwick, and Justice Fist (and their parents) for a ransom.
I’d never heard anything about a ransom, but I wouldn’t put it past Ray to try to get some extra profit out of the deal.
The newscast explained my parents’ involvement by noting that my dad had been the therapist for Julie and Lucas before either one got any powers. They didn’t mention Haley’s parents at all.
Much of the rest of the coverage focussed on how the Heroes League had fought Syndicate L mechs throughout Grand Lake.
I couldn’t help but notice what didn’t make it in. They barely talked about the battle near the old radio station, or the fact that they hadn’t caught any of Prime’s people. They didn’t mention that I’d been held captive, or say anything about Syndicate L wanting me as an employee.
They didn’t mention much about Ray’s death either. They mentioned that he’d been accidentally killed while fighting the Rocket and the Power.
That was it.
I guessed the Feds might be involved, and later Isaac Lim confirmed that FBI telepaths had removed my real name from Gina and the two guys in powered armor’s memory.
That was a relief until I started to wonder whether there were other circumstances where the FBI was allowed to do mindwipes.
Nationally, the story got some press, but it faded in a couple days. In the Double V forums though, it started a fairly lively debate. They knew about Ray’s superhero kills, and the way he’d hunted heroes’ friends and families.
They wondered how “accidental” his death really was, and who had killed him, making some uncomfortably good guesses.
I found the subject depressing and stopped following the forums within a day or two.
On Wednesday (my birthday), Rachel and I were meeting Lee for lunch, and a talk.
So while I got to be like every eighteen year old in that I was finally eligible to vote and be drafted, I was also eligible to hear the full story behind Lee and Grandpa’s deal.