Chapter 135

“You’ve learned some new tricks,” Miriam Taylor commented, carefully slicing off another piece of chicken breast. She didn’t know how, but the chef had managed to impart a surprising amount of moisture and flavor without overwhelming the bird’s base taste. The asparagus side dish complimented things nicely, as did the squash puree.

“I have a bit of free time on weekends,” Dean Blaine said, beginning work on his own entrée. “It gives me time to experiment with new recipes I’ve read about.”

“Well, a few more meals like this and I just might forget about you sending off my son over break.”

“I shall endeavor to do my best.” Dean Blaine was visiting Miriam as a poor substitute for the son she’d expected. So far they’d taken in two plays and a museum, with plenty of time left for whatever other activities she could conceive of. She was clearly punishing him; however, it could have been worse, so at least Dean Blaine knew she understood. It would be hard for her not to, after all; despite being perfectly human, most of her social group in college had been members of the HCP.

“I’ll hold you to that,” Miriam replied. “This is impressive. If I didn’t know better I’d swear you’ve been taking lessons from...” Her voice puttered off as her words caught up with what she’d intended to say.

“He was an amazing cook,” Dean Blaine agreed. They’d avoided the elephant in the room so far, but he saw no point in continuing to do so now that she’d tripped over its trunk. “Of course, with his power it’s hard to know how much was actual skill and how much was him fiddling around.”

“You said ‘was’ an amazing cook. So that means it’s not true, right? He didn’t raise that boy in Chad’s class. He isn’t... he hasn’t come back.” Miriam’s knife scraped loudly against the plate as her hand gave way to a slight tremor.

“All we have is a story of a homeless man with a watch,” Dean Blaine assured her. “It’s strange, but it’s hardly unexplainable. Besides, the boy he acted as a father to has no memory of him ever using an ability. We are as certain as we can be that Globe is still an unfortunate piece of the past and nothing more.”

“Thank God,” Miriam said, steadying herself with some effort. “I don’t know how Chad would handle it; he is already so preoccupied with his father. If Globe hadn’t died, I fear my son would have become obsessed with hunting him rather than emulating Joshua.”

“I have faith he would have been put on a healthier path.” Dean Blaine knew that despite her occasional trepidation, Miriam was not a woman easily stopped, especially where her son was concerned. “But all of this is for nothing. Chad is a well-adjusted, if overly focused, young man, and Globe is dead in the ground where he deserves to be.”

“All these years, and that thought is still strange to me,” Miriam admitted. “Even knowing he killed my husband, even seeing the videos... Joshua almost missed Chad’s birth, you know. He and Globe got tangled up a few miles from the city with a criminal that could turn into swarms of bugs. By the time it was resolved there was so little time left, and Shimmerpath was with the rest of the team on another assignment. It was thanks to Globe that Joshua made it in time. He ignored all manner of protocol to do it, but he made it happen.”

“He would have done anything for Joshua. They were best friends since freshman year,” Dean Blaine said.

Miriam nodded and took another bite of her food. “We asked him to be Chad’s godfather, but he talked us out of it. He said it should be someone not on the team, someone who wasn’t a Hero. That way, if anything really bad happened, Chad would have someone whose life wasn’t always at risk. He wanted to do it, you could see it in his eyes. He just refused to put his desires over what was best for our son. That’s the man who killed my husband.” She looked up at him, not asking the question she’d grilled him with so many times over the years. Wasn’t there something he knew, some tidbit to give clarity on what had happened?

Dean Blaine said nothing. He had nothing he could say. It didn’t make sense to him either. It never had, probably never would. The footage was there, grainy though it was. Several different security cameras from nearby businesses had captured the two team members’ confrontation. Intra had allegedly discovered that Globe was secretly working with a local mafia boss and had attempted to talk to him about it. Globe had become aggressive, and in the ensuing battle Intra managed to sever Globe’s arm. Globe, unfortunately, was able to leave his best friend as nothing more than a corpse in the street. This had all been explained by their teammates later on. One could see the series of actions on the video, but not hear the words. Dean Blaine would have given damn near anything to know what those two said to one another. He was far from the only one.

“This classmate of Chad’s, the one who had Globe’s watch, what sort of person is he?” Miriam asked, bringing Dean Blaine out of his internal reverie.

“Kind,” Dean Blaine replied after some thought. “Kind, and surprisingly gentle, given the nature of his power. He is quite dedicated to all of his friends, and he seems to be a bit ignorant of people’s social wiles. Also, he’s positively dense when it comes to women.”

“Sounds like he and Chad would get along,” Miriam noted. She looked up at Dean Blaine and locked eyes with him. “He also sounds a lot like I’d expect a child raised by Globe, by the Globe I knew, to be.”

“Good men are in short supply in our world, but they do exist,” Dean Blaine countered. “All it would take is one of them to raise a boy like that.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Miriam said, temporarily retreating. “Let’s move onto more pleasant topics. There’s a modern art show opening tomorrow night.”

Dean Blaine suppressed a groan. He loathed the modern stuff, but it was a small price to pay for making Miriam happy. Besides, there would probably be decent wine there.