The knock on Chad’s door didn’t exactly send it flying off the hinges, but it landed with enough force to make it clear that the possibility was definitely there. He glanced up from his bed and then rolled over. Whoever it was could go away. Chad hadn’t opened the door for Shane, who had tried first thing that morning, or Angela, who had come about an hour later, so he certainly wasn’t going to disrupt his solitude for someone who didn’t even bother announcing their name. The early afternoon sun was beginning to shine through the grubby exterior of his dorm’s window, and Chad knew eventually he’d have to leave for food. That was later, when the rest of the school was asleep. Until then, he’d turned off his brain’s ability to feel hunger.
A second knock landed, this one sending bits of wood dust hurtling off the top of the door. If they increased at this rate, the visitor’s hand would go through the cheap wood in no time.
“Go away.” Chad commanded, his head still buried in the pillow. The response was knocking that immediately became persistent and unyielding. Now that they knew he was here, it seemed the strategy was to annoy him into answering. Chad could turn himself deaf and go back to sleep; however, the way the door seemed to be shuddering told him eventually it would cave, and then he really wouldn’t be able to get any privacy. With a fluid leap from the bed, he crossed the room in one stride and yanked open his door.
“Afternoon,” greeted Roy, left hand still raised while his right clutched a small burlap bag.
“Go away,” Chad repeated. “I’m in no mood for visitors.”
“I bet you’re not,” Roy agreed, sliding the tip of his boot a few inches forward. Chad could still slam the door in his face, but now it would shatter the bottom of it and Roy would be unharmed. “After a scene like yours I’d probably be hiding in my room, too.”
“I am not hiding. I merely wanted to take some time to reflect on my actions.”
“Lucky you, I happen to have an excellent reflection assistant.” Roy lifted the canvas bag as illustration.
“I’d rather be alone.”
“I’d rather be spending the day with a supermodel. We all got shit we want.”
“You aren’t going to leave, are you?”
“Nope, and you can’t beat me senseless in the middle of the dorms without witnesses and giving yourself a hell of a lot more to worry about. So just let me in, hear me out, and then you can sulk in the dark all you want.”
Chad stepped aside without so much as a sigh. He’d fought Roy enough to know there was no changing his mind once he set it on something. There was still the option of incapacitating him, but Roy was correct in his assessment that it would result in significant collateral damage.
Chad’s unwanted guest plopped down in a chair and opened his canvas sack, pulling out a long brown bottle and two identical glasses. He twisted off the top and poured each glass about halfway full. Chad accepted the glass handed to him and took a seat, though he didn’t make any motions to drink from it.
“So. You’re the son of Intra.”
“Yes.” There was little point in denying it; everyone in the HCP would likely know by now.
Roy took a slow sip from his drink. “I know how that can wear on you, having that famous pedigree hanging over your head. For most children of big Heroes it’s about measuring up, about not being a failure in comparison. You and I are in a different boat. We’re both set on surpassing ours.”
“Was your father murdered by his best friend, too?”
“No. Abandoned my mother and me when I was a kid. She says she told him to go, that she wanted him to be happy, but even if that’s true he should have known it would destroy... I’m sorry. This isn’t about me. Point is, I know what it’s like to have issues with a missing dad. Not the same as yours, but still, issues.”
“Your camaraderie is noted,” Chad said. He took a gulp of the glass he was holding without thinking about it. It wasn’t as bad as he’d expected: smoother, at least, than others had led him to believe. Had Chad known anything about whiskey, he would have realized that this was more palatable because Roy had actually brought a decent grade.
“Look, I get that you’re upset about losing control last night, but you need to get over it. People get pissed off and do dumb shit. No one got hurt, so let yourself relax a little.”
“You don’t know the first thing about me,” Chad snapped.
“Yeah, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the guy whose power is all about self-control might not handle an emotional freak-out too well,” Roy replied. “Especially when he almost knocked the brains out of an innocent person who happened to be nearby.”
Chad slumped in his chair by a few inches and took another sip of the whiskey. “How is she?”
“Fine, as is Vince, thanks for asking.”
Chad’s head jerked up and his body tightened. “Vince-”
“Vince is a guy with a watch. Maybe it means his hobo dad was actually Globe in disguise. Maybe it means he found it on the ground or looted a corpse years earlier. Maybe he bought it at a pawn shop. I don’t know and neither does Vince. For that matter, neither do you.”
“You want me to leave him alone. That’s why you came.”
“I want you to get a grip,” Roy clarified, draining his glass and pouring another. “You almost killed someone last night because of a watch and questions that were honestly answered. I realize your dad is a sore issue, I really do get that, but you can’t let that send you off the deep end every time. You are way too powerful for that. People will get hurt.”
“People will get hurt.” Chad echoed. He polished off his own glass and held it out for a refill, which Roy obliged.
“And you know that. My money says that’s why you work so hard to stay in control, why you keep a distance from all but the strongest people. You’re scared of slipping up, like last night.”
This time all Chad could do was nod.
“It’s kind of funny; you and Vince are actually really similar. Both brilliant fighters, both dense as bricks when it comes to the social world, and both scared to death of hurting other people involuntarily. Oh, and both of you lost your fathers.”
“His father is dead?”
“When he was thirteen. Watched him get blown up in a train car explosion. So even if that guy was Globe - and if it was then a whole lot of other shit doesn’t make sense - but if it was then he’s already dead.”
“No, you don’t. You don’t believe me, and that’s okay. I’m not here to convince you. I’m just here to get you drunk and help you come to terms with last night’s fiasco.”
“I don’t get drunk. I’ve always just sent the alcohol directly to my bladder.”
“Maybe give the bloodstream a shot this time,” Roy suggested. “Or don’t. Your call.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes after that, the sun making the shadows shift as it descended through the sky. Eventually Chad spoke up, realizing there something they had touched on in the discussion he was still curious about.
“I just realized: you implied your dad was a well-known Hero as well. Who was he?”
Roy had a nearly full glass, which he drained in a single swig before replying. “Titan.”
“Your father was Titan?”
“Oh,” Chad said softly. “I can see how that would leave you feeling a bit fucked up.”