Chapter 70

               Titan was expecting a bit of a circus when he returned to the top floor of the Mordent Holdings building; after all the city had just seen another attack by robots, albeit a small one. He was not, however, prepared for the complete shitshow he walked in on as soon as the front door opened.

                Mr. Greene was on the phone, shouting loudly at someone about defamation and lawsuits, while a myriad of people clustered and scuttled around him, all on phones or laptops of their own. From down the hall came an occasional bout of shouting, which quickly died away into what Titan thought might be sobs or angry screams, often the two were hard to distinguish at a distance. The only member of his team in the living room was Hexcellent, who was playing one of her video games in spite of the people who kept darting in front of the screen. Given the expression on her face, Titan wouldn’t have been shocked if Huggles or Big Henry soon made an appearance to enforce the sanctity of the screen.

                “There is no way I fucked up bad enough for all of this,” Titan said, standing next to Hexcellent as the crowd parted around, and ignored, him.

                “For once, my favorite scape goat, you are not the cause of today’s drama,” Hexcellent replied. “That honor goes to BB, who has had the dubious honor of an internet scandal all her own.”

                “Did she scowl at the wrong person?” Titan asked.

                “If only. Seems someone might have made a little whoopee with one of her commercial directors, and a very incriminating tape leaked online. Since he’s done movie work and she’s actually becoming well-known, the media decided to run with it. Probably doesn’t help that, at the time, he was supposedly dating a well-known actress as well.” Hexcellent scowled as a dark-haired woman in a pantsuit strolled in front of the television, causing her to miss the jump to her next platform. “Also not helping that she’s on a team with you. Let’s just say parallels are being drawn.”

                “You have to be fucking kidding me.” Titan heard another bout of shouting; though this time he had a more accurate guess as to what might be the cause. “I assume Zone and Galvanize are comforting her?”

                “More like trying to coax her out of her room, which she locked herself in,” Hexcellent corrected. “I thought it best if I stayed out of the way for now. She and I don’t have the best dynamic anyway, and I wouldn’t want to see someone as bitchy as me during all this.”

                “Good intentions,” Titan said. “But unfortunately, the wrong strategy.” With a single motion he scooped Hexcellent off the couch, knocking the controller to the ground and sending her character off to die. It was enough of an event to finally draw attention from Mr. Greene and the suits, though only the former bothered addressing it.

                “What are you doing?”

                “Fireman’s carry, I think,” Hexcellent chirped from over his shoulder. “Also, holy shit you are tall. I never really noticed looking up at you.”

                “I’m going to help my teammate,” Titan replied. “And we all need to be there. Don’t worry about it, you stay out here and keep doing damage control. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”

                Mr. Greene didn’t even bother to conceal the sneer on his lips. “I’ll certainly keep that in mind.”

                “Please do, because I mean it.” Titan rested a meaty hand on Mr. Greene’s shoulder, sending ripples of confusion across the leaner man’s face. “You and I might not get along, but if there are some PR hoops I can jump through to make this easier on Bubble Bubble, say the word.”

                “I… I will actually keep it in mind,” Mr. Greene said, this time with exponentially more sincerity. He still didn’t seem to trust Titan in the media’s eye, but the man was too powerful of a tool to ignore entirely.

                “Thanks.” Titan adjusted his grip on Hexcellent and waded his way through the sea of people and into the hallway.

                “You know I would have just come along if you told me to,” Hexcellent said from flopped over his shoulder.

                “I know. I just thought you’d have more fun this way.”

                “You’re like the big gay older brother I always wanted.”

                They quickly arrived at Bubble Bubble’s door, where Zone and Galvanize were pleading their case. Since the door was firmly wedged closed, he could see how well that tactic was going.

                “Titan, we’re glad you could make it back,” Galvanize said. “Things are a bit hectic right now-”

                “I brought him up to speed,” Hexcellent said as Titan set her carefully on the ground. “Even told him BB had locked herself up.”

                “We’ve tried everything to get her out,” Zone told them. “She just keeps yelling at us to go away, so maybe she wants to deal with this in private.”

                “Oh, I don’t have any doubt that’s what she thinks she wants,” Titan said. “But as the only one here to have been on the other side of that door, I also know how important it is she have people reminding her that she’s not alone in all of this. Now pay attention, if you ever have kids one day then this is a technique you’ll want to use when they inevitably try to lock you out of a room.”

                Titan leaned in and tapped lightly, but firmly, on the sealed door. “Bubble Bubble, it’s me, Titan. I’m here with the rest of the team, and just the rest of the team. We’re here to talk things out with you.”

                “There’s nothing to talk about!” Bubble Bubble’s voice cracked halfway through the scream, a telltale sign she’d probably cried herself partially hoarse. “I’m packing up and quitting. My career is ruined.”

                “If that’s what you decide to do when you calm down, then we’ll help you pack, but first you need to get some perspective and let the initial wave of panic wash away. That’s what we’re going to help you with.”

                “I’m not opening the door!”

                “Suit yourself; I’m sure maintenance can get a replacement in the next couple of days. You might want to stand back though. I’d hate for you to get clipped by any debris.” Titan reared back and closed his hand into a sizable fist.

                “What are you… are you breaking my door down?!?”

                “Or you can open it, but we’re not going to let you be alone. I’ve been where you are, kid. I mean, almost exactly where you are. I know firsthand that right now you’re scared, and ashamed, and the idea of talking about it literally fills you with stomach churning dread because it will make it all become real, but you have to talk about it. If not with us, then with someone we can bring here. You can’t sit alone and let it fester, because you’re going to make snap choices. Decisions that will have much bigger impacts than you expect. You’ll do things that, years from now, when you finally do get that clarity, you’ll realize you regret even more than the thing that stirred you up in the first place.”

                For a long moment no sound came from the other side of the door. Titan pulled back his punch a bit further, then a small click came from the door and it opened several inches. Bleary faced and red-eyed, Bubble Bubble stared back at them from the small opening to her room.

                “You can come in, but only for a few minutes.”