Sean blinked, “Whoa. I didn’t see that coming.”
Dayton averted his eyes, but then looked up, “I know, but I’ve been thinking about this lately. I love the guy like a brother because he pretty much is, you know, but sometimes you love your brother even though you don’t always like him. Jody’s touchy and he bullies people—still.”
Stopping, Dayton frowned, “We all did that in school, but we grew out of it—even Jody. He doesn’t do it as much, but he’s still doing it. I’m hoping he does better in the future, but if he doesn’t, he’s going to be the guy giving the group a bad reputation. If our group takes off, that means he’s going to be the founder that everybody hates. And by that point, if we don’t take care of it, no one working for us will have the power to complain.”
Stomach sinking inside him, Sean knew Dayton had a point, “Yeah. I want to give him a chance, but I get it. If we start thinking about this as an organization, he’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
Turning his head toward the window, Dayton said, “That’s right, and worse, if he gets pissed at us mid-battle and runs off, maybe someone dies. I’m not saying that we have to kick him off the team right now, but I think we’re going to have to think through our rules for it when we set up the Justice Fist charter.”
Sean nodded, “Which we’ll do as part of Future-men’s package. This is going to feel weird. We’re going to be talking about how to throw him out right there and he’s going to be throwing out ideas for how to handle it.”
Shrugging Dayton said, “Or he’ll decide it’s all stupid and watch a video on his phone. It won’t just be for him. We really do need it in case we make a mistake as we expand or if one of us wants to leave on good terms too. A good policy helps everyone.”
Not even aware he was doing it until his hand slapped the table, Sean muttered, “Shit. I always imagined the three of us starting our own thing after graduation and having it be like being on the basketball team together, you know?”
Dayton smiled, “There’s no reason it can’t be like that. We can keep it small at first. I think we can handle him if it’s just us.”
Sean found himself staring at the black lacquer of the dining room table, remembering playing with Jody and Dayton as kids, roaming the playground of their elementary school, playing other teams on the basketball court… “This sucks.”
He looked up to find Dayton nodding, “I don’t like it either, but I can’t think of any other way to handle it. Keep him around as long as we can and hope he gets better over time. After that… Well, at least we can make it clean.”
“Ok,” Sean tapped out a message on his comm, “I’m telling Jody that we’re going to sign. He probably won’t come back right away, but he’ll know.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Dayton shook his head. “But it’s not the way I’d hoped this would go.”
“Me neither,” Sean checked the window, half-expecting to see Jody standing outside or to hear a knock on the door. “I feel worse that we’re even talking about kicking Jody out than I do that we might be facing Magnus somehow. It’s crazy.”
Dayton pushed his chair back and stood up, “No, it’s not. Facing supervillains is part of the job. Fighting with your friends isn’t. For all that I’ve heard about the Dominators, we might be able to win that one. If it gets to the point that we have to kick Jody out, we’re going to feel like we lost even if it’s good for the group.”
Sean stood up, walking with him toward the window and looking out over the city. Jody was running somewhere out there and Future-men’s lawyers were getting ready for the signing. Magnus might still be out there too if he didn’t have someone to teleport him out.
In the distance, the sun sparkled on the water of Grand Lake. Sean had spent most of his summer in the desert. He should go to the beach. Maybe Dayton and Jody would be up for it after the signing. He wondered if he’d be able to find his swimsuit in all the boxes in his room.
As they stood, Jody ran up the side of the building, coming over the edge in a blur and walking across the roof to knock on the condo’s side door.
When Sean let him in, Jody smirked at the both of them, “Thought you guys would make the right decision in the end.”
Dayton grinned, “We’re slower than you are. I’m glad you’re back.”
With a shrug, Jody joined Dayton at the window, “There’s nothing to do out there. I mean, sure, I could run around, but it’s not like I’m going to go get coffee dressed like this.”
He waved his hand across his costume. “I could have changed into normal clothes, but since you came to your senses, I’d rather wait in here. What changed?”
Dayton threw up his hands, “Nothing much. I just needed a little time to realize that we don’t have a plan b. We didn’t talk to any other investors.”
Jody nodded, “We should have. Maybe we could have gotten more cash out of them.”
“Maybe,” Sean thought back to his father. “What do you guys want to do tonight? I was thinking maybe we go out to dinner. Maybe go to the beach?”
Looking up at him, Jody said, “Whatever you guys are doing. I don’t have any plans.”
Dayton nodded, “Both of those sound good. It’ll be nice to do something normal. A couple of days ago Jody and I were both in space, followed by riding a rocket home, moving back in, and all of this drama. Now I’m ready to walk in the sand.”
“Cool,” Sean couldn’t disagree. After this afternoon, it did sound good to hang out as a team, whatever the future might hold.
Jody’s comm rang. Jody tapped the screen on his wrist, taking the call. Sean heard only Jody’s end of the conversation, “Bad timing, man. Talk to you later, okay?”
With another tap, Jody ended the call. “Stupid. It was someone from Stapledon.”
Sean had a gut feeling that Jody wasn’t telling the truth, but he didn’t feel like pushing it. They were going to sign with Future-men Capital, the premier investor in superhero teams.
Sometimes you needed to let a good moment be good.