Adam walked across HQ’s main room like a man who knew where he was going. To be fair, except for being large enough to hold a regulation basketball court plus an audience, the room was basically a big square.
Anybody would know that all they had to do was cross the room diagonally and that we were on the middle left.
I’m not trying to say that he had the necessary confidence to cross a big room, though. He had that kind of confidence anywhere. It led to some questionable choices. Even ignoring the dragon and fairy invasion he’d unleashed on our school, there was the time he’d thought the mob had killed his girlfriend and he snuck into mobsters’ houses and killed their leaders until the FBI stopped him.
He wasn’t even right that his girlfriend had died. Nicole showed up at Stapledon after he disappeared. She seemed nice.
And here he was in my team’s base without even asking permission. Given his alliances with the worst sort of fairies, I would have expected that he’d already hit the point where invitations to enter buildings owned by mortals were required.
To my eyes, he didn’t look unusual in any way. In fact, he looked like a normal person. He wasn’t even wearing a costume. He wore beige slacks and a blue, satiny shirt that might have been a little extra, but it was typical for him. More to the point, he wasn’t wearing the sort of Renaissance festival-style clothing that you might expect out of someone who escaped into Faerie—which I was pretty sure he had.
Spotting Haley and me, he nodded and smiled at the two of us when he was halfway across the room.
Haley let go of Travis’ hand, looked up at me, and began to walk around the capsule. I followed her.
Her dad saw us beginning to leave and asked, “Who is that?”
Haley turned around and said, “Don’t worry about him, Dad. It’s Heroes’ League business, but it shouldn’t take long.”
He looked at her and then over at Adam, “I don’t like the look of him.”
In a quieter voice, she said, “Dad, not now.”
Looking away from her dad, I turned back toward Adam, wondering what exactly he was responding to. Between Adam’s strong jaw, full lips, and grey eyes, he had the feel of a male lead in a romance novel—the kind the heroine is tempted by but doesn’t end up with.
I’d like to think that I looked like a safer bet to her dad, but I wasn’t sure that he thought I was good enough for Haley either. To be fair, after her experience with Sean and the police investigation that followed her poisoning him, I could imagine that the whole family would be paranoid.
We walked away from them, meeting up with Adam in the middle of the room. He said, “I’m sorry to come at a time like this, but I know something that you need to hear.”
Haley’s lip curled, “What?”
Adam blinked, possibly surprised by her directness, but he answered anyway, “Major Justice and his crew are calling in favors and generally contacting anyone they can to organize against you. They may not be at the top of the heap, but they know a lot of people. In your shoes, I’d be worried. They don’t know everything that happened today, but when they do, it’ll be fodder for the story they’re trying to tell—that you’re out of control and crazy with power, that you won’t be restrained by anything.”
Haley looked up at him, “We know that. They’ve been telling us that they’ll do that for the last few days.”
Adam looked at each of us and said, “Unless their plans change, they’ll be coming today. Even if they don’t come today, it’s not good news for you. It means that they pulled someone in who’s worth waiting a day or two for.”
I nodded, “We more or less knew that too.”
Stephanie had said as much when they called. She’d even known that Major Justice had called in Bullet and the Coffeeshop Illuminati. Despite the goofiness of the name, the group had massive funding in combination with the more powerful descendants of established superhero families.
That would open up connections to teams that might not normally join up against the Heroes’ League. Sure, they might respect our grandparents, but would that translate into not helping their kids fight us? I doubted it.
Adam raised an eyebrow, “Seriously? You’re doing better at intelligence gathering than I’d have expected. It makes me think you took my warning to heart. Did you think about my offer of an alliance? As you should have guessed, that’s the other reason I’m here.”
He looked off to our side and I followed his gaze. Cassie and Amy were walking toward us, both still in costume. Grunion, my family’s cat, trailed after Amy.
“I know you all have to be okay with it, but look, I think you know what we’re facing—the Nine, the Dominators, and whatever else hides under their umbrella. You’re not going to be able to take them on by yourself. Neither am I, but if we work together, I’ll have allies I know aren’t the Nine’s dupes and you’ll have an army of fairies gathering intelligence and providing extra muscle where you need it.
“I know you’re strong, but the Nine just attacked your families. You can’t be everywhere at once and you can’t match the Nine one on one. With me, you can.”