When I got back to HQ, it was too full.
My parents were there. Haley’s parents were there. Haley’s second cousins were there, both of them doctors and both of them trying to use the alien medical tech to save Travis’ life.
If that weren’t enough, most of the team was there. By the time you got out of work for two or three fights plus helping Kayla handle law enforcement’s questions, it wasn’t worth going back to whatever you’d been doing.
And besides, Travis was there.
Haley and his parents stood back from the oval capsule where they’d placed Travis’ body. Both doctors stood next to the bulbous alien machine talking to each other in low tones.
If I hadn’t already known they were brothers, I might have guessed it from their shared thin features, olive skin, and male-pattern baldness. That they’d both chosen to wear white lab coats wasn’t a feature of shared heredity, but it completed the look.
They weren’t twins, but they might as well have been.
My mom had walked up to Haley’s family as I walked into the main room, having left the Rocket suit in the lab and wearing only the stealth suit transformed into a t-shirt and jeans.
I might have expected Dad to be standing with Haley’s parents too, but he was sitting on one of the couches we’d placed together with easy chairs in a kind of lounge area. It was next to the kitchen and the locker rooms, creating a spot that felt less like work than the rest of HQ.
He nodded at me, but didn’t wave me over.
So far as I could tell, he didn’t want to talk and I could respect that. He’d just learned that I was the Rocket and if he hadn’t figured out that Rachel was Ghost and that Mom’s parents were the original Rocket and Ghostwoman, he would soon.
Plus, he’d talked about the problems with young adults becoming superheroes and the damage it caused them for years. Now he’d learned that his kids had been superheroes for all that time. It would be a lot to process.
It wasn’t impossible that part of his opposition came from the combination of the mental block that the Mentalist left in his head in combination with whatever he did absorb of the activities of all the superheroes around him.
I didn’t want to push him.
I nodded back and watched for any other signs that he wanted to talk. He sunk into the couch, staring downward at the wooden coffee table which, like most of the lounge area’s furniture, came from IKEA. It was easier to sneak furniture that came in pieces into my house than have fully assembled furniture delivered to a secret superhero base.
The upshot of this? I left my dad sitting on cheap furniture designed by the descendants of Vikings as I walked toward Haley’s family and my mom.
As I walked closer, both Dr. D’Onofrios had walked out from behind the machine, leaving Travis’ unmoving body in the oval capsule. I didn’t need to have superhearing to guess what they were telling Haley’s parents.
Haley’s mom leaned into Haley’s dad’s chest, sobbing. Her father held his wife but stared at the capsule which one of the doctors walked back and opened.
Haley and her parents, her father’s arm on her mother’s shoulders, all walked forward.
The machine hadn’t brought him back to life, but it had made an open-casket funeral an option. Despite that, the body didn’t quite look like the man it had been.
Travis had confidence and intensity when he talked—honestly when he did anything. I remembered how I’d been nervous to ask Haley out because of him, how he’d pushed us to become more professional as a team, and the time that he’d come out in my defense when Sean had been about to throw a hotel’s pop machine at me.
Travis hadn’t liked Sean when Haley was dating him. I’d never asked if Travis had come to a higher opinion of Sean later.
His face had a slack jaw and a vacant look. His skin, likely thanks to the process of regrowing it, had a reddish tinge that he hadn’t in life.
I passed my mom, who stared at the body with a hard-to-read expression and a glimmer in her eye that might have been a tear. She glanced at me as I stopped next to Haley.
Unsure of what to say, I decided not to ask her how she was doing. The answer seemed obvious. She hadn’t broken down in tears, but she had reached out to take Travis’ hand.
She probably wasn’t doing well. I decided that the best thing I could do was wait for her to talk. She did turn to look at me when I stood next to her. Her smile didn’t last long enough for me to feel confident that I’d seen it, but she did step close enough that she brushed against me.
We stood there together next to Travis’ body and said nothing. How long we would have stayed, I never found out. My comm interrupted us, receiving a text that I took through my implant.
It was a message from Kayla saying, “Adam called to say he’s coming. He wants your answer.”
In the far corner of the room, a human figure emerged from the shadows. Adam was here.