I’d gotten used to the aftermath of a fight. This one had the same components as the others — curious bystanders, police, firemen, ambulances and the arrival of a “box,” one of the vehicles specially created to contain supers.
They took Logan away in it. He wasn’t doing much, but better safe than sorry, I supposed. Melanie wanted to follow, but the police took her home.
The aftermath of that fight differed from most in that we weren’t in costume.
Vaughn and Cassie disappeared into the fog while Haley and I ended up standing there.
People swarmed in as the fog faded away, and everyone seemed to have questions. Haley and I followed the line we’d agreed to — describe everything that happened, and just neglect to mention anything related to secret identities. Were the Heroes League here? Yes. Where did they go? I don’t know. They disappeared into the fog.
That’s what we told the principal.
Dr. Williams (doctorate in education) had walked in the moment the fog cleared with the paramedics and the police. Balding, and a little shorter than I was, he didn’t look impressive. He had to be in his sixties, had a bit of a belly, and wore glasses. His right foot dragged a little as he walked, and his green suit might have been as old as I was.
At the same time, despite his body, he had walked directly to Haley and I, stopping only to inspect Logan as the box’s staff of metahuman specialists attached adjustable plastic and metal cuffs on his arms and legs.
Dr. Williams listened to us describe what happened. “I wish you’d left with everyone else, but as long as you’re safe, we’ll just have to be grateful for that.”
“Yeah,” Sean said, “and next time maybe you won’t play video games in the middle of a fight.”
Sean had walked up behind Dr. Williams. His leg bled, but apparently Logan had only left long scratches as opposed to ripping through the skin into muscle.
The same couldn’t be said for Jody. Paramedics were already taking him away on a stretcher.
Looking at Haley, Sean said, “At least I never brought video games to a dance.”
After seeing him lying on the floor, I’d been a little worried about him, but I felt less worried all the time.
Dr. Williams looked up at him and his eyes narrowed. “Mr. Drucker, show courtesy to other students. Your abilities do not exempt you from that.”
We didn’t get to talk much more. Police interviewed us. Then a couple FBI agents showed up, separated us from the rest of the crowd, and asked their own questions. I didn’t recognize them, but one of them pointedly mentioned Isaac Lim.
By then reporters had began to show up, but we never got to talk to them.
As the FBI agents led us away, I heard Sean saying to someone, “FBI? How does he rate that? He didn’t do anything.”
I didn’t hear the response.
Eventually they let us leave.
We walked out of the school, crossed the street, and sat down in the car. Most of the rest of the cars had left the parking lot already. Even the fire truck was gone.
We sat there in the dark, without even the light of the dashboard, while other stragglers left the school.
Haley broke the silence. “That was awful.”
She put her hand on my shoulder. “I’m not blaming you. I’m glad you invited me, but it was such a mess.”
“On the bright side, we won.”
Haley had a blank expression for a moment. Then, “But even there… Of all the people that we could have fought, why Logan? When Sean and I were dating, I didn’t like some of his friends. I mean, Jody should be locked up, but Logan was nice. He had his problems. I never saw him take drugs, even though I heard he was doing it. He treated people well, and he was funny, and today I had to poison him. Why did he have to turn into something that ate people?”
“Well, at least it’s not addictive. Red Lightning’s version was, but the government’s version isn’t. So it’s not like he’s going to try again. I’d bet he barely remembers it afterward.”
Haley bit her lip. She took a breath. Then she spoke. “I don’t know what his transformation was like, but mine… It’s a rush. I’ve never taken drugs, but it must be a little like it. I don’t think I can describe how good it feels, or the smells or… I don’t know. I barely feel like myself.”
“So if his is like yours…”
“Then it might be addictive. It isn’t for me, but I’ve been doing it all my life. Besides Grandpa supervised Travis and I, and we had the block. So we weren’t ever in a situation where the transformation had the chance to control us.”
I thought about it for a moment. “Well, if nothing else the police and the FBI know about him now. He’ll probably get some kind of supervision.”
“I hope so,” she said.
We sat in silence for a little while and I began to notice that the car was becoming colder.
I pulled the keys out of my pocket. “Do you want to go home? There’s some kind of post-prom overnight thing that we could go to. I wasn’t planning on going, but I think we can just show up.”
“I’m sorry, Nick. I’m tired. I want to go home.” She stopped and thought. “Is there any way we could stop at McDonald’s on the way? I’m also kind of hungry. It happens after I change.”
“I think there’s a Chinese buffet on Jefferson Street that’s open till two in the morning.”
“I could go for Chinese.”
I turned on the car and drove out of the parking lot, matching speed with traffic almost before I realized it. Reminding myself to be careful, I slowed down. If I hit somebody, we’d be fine, but the other car would be totaled.
Glancing at the dashboard, I noted the array of buttons and the screen. I could have viewed our surroundings with the on-board radar, but I didn’t. It would have been too distracting anyway.
Still, it felt good in that moment to be riding together at night in the car, its engine barely audible, and potentially faster than anything on the road.
Another thought struck me, one that made me less happy. “What was Sean’s deal? The way he acted, you’d think I’d done something to him.”
“I don’t know what’s going on in Sean’s mind, but if I had to guess, I’d say that you were getting the attention that he thought he deserved.”