Despite the new details, we’d collected, there wasn’t much to do in the van, and we all left for our respective rooms—within limits anyway. Vaughn, Courtney, Haley, and I all lived in the biggest dorm on campus, and so we walked together. Haley and I broke off from the rest to talk about next weekend—which wasn’t a Stapledon weekend—planning to spend some time together.
Vaughn and Courtney talked a bit as they walked off, but I doubted that they talked for long. Their rooms were on opposite sides of the dorm.
When I finally walked through my own door, I found Jeremy working through physics homework at his desk, laptop open, his screen lighting his face.
I finished the homework I had left and then used my laptop to review the speedster sightings the bots had detected so far. It was just the two I’d found out about on the way back, but in both cases, they started on the southeast side of the city. More interesting, they came in view of my spybots within half a mile of each other.
That might reveal where they were staying, or, if we were lucky, where their next job might be. They’d been photographed on 108th Street. That was near the edge of town, putting it close to newer factories, farmland, suburbs, the southside expressway, and hotels.
I began plotting out where I might put the new bots for maximum coverage, checking my inventory at HQ to make sure I had enough.
As I finished, Jeremy closed his laptop. “Done. That’s all of it. Dr. Hodges had us read two chapters and do problems based on them. It wasn’t hard stuff, but he gave us a fuckton of work.”
“What class?” I barely looked up from my laptop.
“Acoustics.” He muttered. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fun class, but I’ve been at this for hours now.”
I did look up then. “I thought about taking that class.”
Jeremy backed his chair away from his desk and stood up. “Yeah? Why didn’t you?”
“Well, the time conflicted with one of my chemistry classes, but also I wasn’t sure if there would be enough new stuff to justify it. It’s a 200 level course, but it’s still basically an introduction.”
“Point,” Jeremy said. “You could probably teach the class.”
“A lot of it. I don’t know everything about acoustics, but what I do know could easily be twenty years ahead of what’s currently being taught. When my grandpa started teaching me, he was big on not standing out. We used a lot of shortcuts that I’ve never seen anyone else use. The last thing I want to do is hand in a bunch of physics problems that accidentally include a major breakthrough.”
Jeremy stepped in front of his dresser (which like mine was simple, wooden and rectangular), and turned back to me. “Think about it, though. You could get some serious attention.”
“I’ve already got enough of that in costume. The purpose of college for me is to do well enough that I’ve got an exit into a normal life if I need one, and I probably will. Physically I’m completely human normal. I’ll get too old for it. The ideal is to get good enough grades that I can do what I want, but to be a normal kind of genius.”
Nodding, Jeremy said, “Wonder how many other people are doing that?”
“No idea,” I said, “but most of the world’s smartest people.”
Pulling his pajamas out of a drawer, he said, “And it surprises people that I’m into conspiracy theories?” Then he pointed toward my computer. “What are you working on?”
By the time I was done, he’d pulled on his pajamas and gotten in bed. “That’s cool, but you need to take a break sometimes. You’ve been at the program all weekend after being there all summer, and after you’re done with homework, you’re back at tracking those guys? You should relax. You’re not doing Stapledon next week, right?”
“I’m doing something with Haley, but yeah.” I saved my work and closed my laptop.
“That’s good, but you should hang out with us. My friends and I almost always do something on the weekend. Haley can come too.” He grinned at me, still sitting up in his bed.
“Are you sure? Look, weird stuff doesn’t always happen when we try to do normal things, but there’s a distinct possibility that Haley and I could find ourselves running off.”
He waved it away with his hand. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll cover for you. What’s the worst that could happen?”
I thought about it. “Well, at my senior prom, one of my classmates turned into a monster and tried to eat everybody.”
“I heard about that,” Jeremy said. “People didn’t know what power juice was then.”
“Also, last summer a group of us went to a Fourth of July celebration, and got attacked by faeries.”
“Stapledon,” Jeremy began to say.
“It turned out that a famous assassin had been attending Haley’s family Christmas party secretly for years before we turned cape, but the year I attended, he killed two FBI agents.”
“Huh. But you stopped him, right?”
I open my mouth, unsure of where to go with that, finally saying, “It was the Executioner. He killed a classmate’s father at my graduation and joined up with the Cabal before he died.”
Jeremy blinked. “I remember reading about some of that. I’m sure it wasn’t just because of the Christmas party.”
I shrugged. “Probably not. We’ve had regular movie nights with the team without major problems. Except there was one time where Evil Beatnik escaped, possessed my high school history teacher, called up the grandchildren of the old League’s greatest foes plus Evil Beatnik’s sidekick… Do you remember the guy who summons infinite monkeys? Anyway, they tried to destroy the city.”
Jeremy stared at me. “Now I want to invite you just to see what happens.”
Before I could figure out a reply, my phone bleeped. I checked the notifications. It was from Cassie. Her text said, “R U awake? Talk about Vaughn & Amy?”
Keeping my tone level, I said, “I think I’ve got to get this.”