Chapter 91

                “The old ghost of the battlefield let you do a little recruiting, huh? Good for him, I always liked that curmudgeon.” Lenny poured the cold beer from his fridge into two chilled pint glasses while Owen waited in the living room. As a rule, Lenny made it a point to check in with his clients regularly, and this whole charity event had provided a rare moment of predictability in Titan’s schedule. Thus, with the panels done for the day, the agent and Hero were having a sit-down to address any problems or opportunities that might have arisen. Lenny found the more often he did this, the less frequently he had drunken people banging on his door at two in the morning.

                When Lenny turned around, beers in hand, he found Owen staring at him with an unexpected look of amusement. “You know, you aren’t supposed to know that’s his nickname. Technically, you’re not even supposed to know what his power is or Hero name was.”

                “Just try doing recruiting in all these schools and not picking up a little information here and there.” Lenny walked over, cold beers in hand, and set them down on pre-placed coasters that were resting on his coffee table. “No one ever worries about an agent betraying HCP secrets. For one thing, we make our livelihood off our talent for discretion, and for another, just getting in the doors of those places means I’ve signed so many non-disclosures that the government could hurl me into a windowless cell for the rest of my life. Which I am not game for; you think they carry my damn orthopedic insoles in prison? Hell no.”

                “We’ve got people who can melt buildings with a glance or punch through skulls like tissue, and that’s the thing that scares you.” Owen chuckled as he reached for his beer, taking a tentative taste. It was good, but not great. Interesting. Lenny saved the great stuff for when he had bad news, to take the edge off. Things must be looking up.

                “What can I say, you get to my age and the body becomes a lemon in need of constant upkeep.” Lenny looked up and down at the giant musclebound man who refused to show more than a cursory of aging as it piled atop him. “Okay, maybe not when you get to my age…”

                They shared a laugh at this, and sank into light conversation as they worked through their beers. Both knew business would come later, but Lenny enjoyed reinforcing the personal relationship with his clients when the opportunities arose. It helped them to trust him when things got rough and they needed careful steering, plus it made them less-likely to jump ship for some schmuk offering false promises and a lower percentage. Eventually, however, the chit-chat came to an end as Lenny set down his half-drunk beer and looked Owen in the eye.

                “Alright, I think it’s time we got down to brass tacks. Namely, how you want to start moving from here.”

                Owen looked at his agent uncertainly, motioning for the small man to go on.

                “I’m saying you need to make a plan, chart a path, start figuring out where you want to go. The public is responding well to you, and your stock is once again on the rise. Hell, didn’t you wonder why Dean Jackson was so willing to let you wave the Sizemore flag? After the fight with Elemental Fury, people are starting to remember why the name Titan was a household one even before the scandal.”

                “It’s been nice, sure, but I’m not certain what you’re getting at here,” Owen replied, nursing the remainder of his drink.

                “I’m getting at the fact that you’re starting to have options. Hero teams have started sniffing around, seeing how mobile you’re willing to be. Now I’m not saying you need to jump right now, there’s still a lot of groundwork to be laid, but if you’ve got some top picks we can work in that direction and make you as appealing as possible.”

                “But… I already have a team.”

                Lenny stared at Owen for a long while, leaning back into his couch and taking his drink with him. “Yes, you do. A team of corpies that you didn’t want to join in the first place. Maybe we’re not on the same page here, Titan. I thought this would be a stepping stone to get you back out there. You get to rehab your reputation a bit, and a PEERS team gets training and protection from a world-class Hero. The long-term hope was that you’d eventually outgrow it and move onto to a place where you could do more good.”

                “I guess… I suppose that might have been in the back of my head, when I first started this. But now, they’re my team. I don’t know that I’d feel right abandoning them,” Owen said.

                “Who’s asking you to abandon anyone? There would be a transition time where you trained their new Hero Liaison, a job that plenty of people are interested in doing since you elevated their status. You could see them socially as well, if you wanted. Heroes change teams for various reasons all the time, you know that.”

                With one swallow, Owen finished off the last of his beer and set down the glass. “Maybe so, but this isn’t a Hero team. It’s a PEERS one. I like being there, I like watching over them, and I like that a big chunk of my time gets dedicated to rescue work instead of having to get blood on my hands.”

                “Look, Titan, this is your life, your career, your second chance,” Lenny said, his tone gentle as he scooted forward on the couch cushion. “You want to stay with the PEERS? That’s completely fine by me. I only brought this up because when you came to me, you said you wanted back into the life because you felt like you could take on the hard jobs, the ones that might get other people killed. As your agent, I took that to heart, and have been trying to get you into a position where you can best fill that role. Which, we can both agree, is on a team of Heroes, who spend nearly all their time on the clock. Maybe I misunderstood what the end goal was, maybe things changed along the way. Point is, if we need to change directions, you just give me the new coordinates.”

                “No, you’re right. That’s what I came back for.” Owen looked down at his hands, wide and strong, and thought back to how many times he’d used them to take another person’s life. People that could have, would have, killed other Heroes who didn’t have his gifts. Being able to use his power to save without bloodshed, it had been wonderful. A breath of fresh air, a living vacation. But Owen hadn’t come back to take a vacation, he’d come back to do penance. To pay for his time wasted hiding from the world.

                “Make some inquiries, I guess. Look around. Like you said, we’re a long way off from having to actually take any real steps forward.”

                “I’ll be completely discreet,” Lenny assured him. “And no promises will be made until you’re ready. Take your time, enjoy being with those kids. You do deserve to be happy sometimes, you know.”

                Owen nodded, not sure if he really believed the words, but appreciating them anyway. “Thanks, Lenny. How about another beer?”