Chapter 164

Mary stayed calm. She’d been working hard on keeping a cool head during stressful situations so as not to let her level of precision slip. So she very calmly unleashed a blast of telekinetic force designed to send the man across the table through at least three houses before he slowed down. Mary was somewhat less calm when not even a slight shove seemed to manifest.

“No super powers in this world,” Vince’s father helpfully reminded her. “Given the surprise on your face I’m guessing you tried something pretty ostentatious. It’s built right into the framework. I’m afraid no ability other than the ones that allow you to enter and exit will function. Now, I’ll go see about your tea.” He stood up and walked over to the teapot, which Mary had failed to notice whistling. “Of course, you could still yell for Vince and tell him everything; however, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t. This experience will help him greatly in dealing with my recent activities. I’d hate to see it ruined.”

Mary stayed quiet as he set the cup of hot water and the bags down on a small plate, along with a small spoon, a packet of sugar, and a bottle of honey. He slid them across, making sure to keep his distance non-threatening. The cup was steaming freely as Mary looked into its clear depths.

“You don’t really expect me to drink something you handed me, do you?”

“No, I suppose I don’t, but it seemed impolite not to at least offer.”

“I could still attack you, even without my powers.”

“You certainly could, however seeing as neither of us is here physically, I’m not sure what you would be aiming to accomplish.” He took a swig of his coffee before continuing. “I am glad for this opportunity, at least. I’ve wanted to apologize for the incident with George and Persephone since it happened.”

“Sure, and next you’re going to tell me how this whole thing is a set up and you’re not really to blame for any of it.”

“No, I won’t be telling you that,” he said, the polite happiness on his face suddenly overshadowed by some ancient ache from deep within. “Are things more complex than you realize? Almost always. But I will not claim false innocence. Make no mistake, Mary, the death of Intra, your kidnapping, and much of what is to come, it is all my fault.”

She hadn’t quite expected that. The man was so open and upfront, it was like, well, it was like talking to Vince. Absentmindedly she began dunking the teabag in her cup. “How are you here, anyway? I just saw you getting chased on the news.”

“What you saw was footage, footage that had been reviewed, censored, and reviewed again before it was ever cleared to broadcast to the general public. We’ve been holed up for over two hours. The limits on what media can report regarding Heroes cause some pretty glaring gaps in efficiency. We’ve only got a little bit before Vince returns; I’d suggest asking me things you actually care about.”

“Fine. Why did you break out George? And why did he try to kidnap me in the first place?”

“For the first, it is because George is a friend who was only following orders. I won’t let anyone suffer on my account when I can help it. As to the second, I’m afraid I won’t answer that yet. Suffice it to say that there was a preferred Plan A and a more realistic Plan B. We are now well within the depths of B.” The coffee was finished off in a single final gulp and he rose to get more. While up he stopped to check on the lasagna. “I’m guessing you’re the one who will tell them when to wake Vince up?”

“I’ll go back to my own brain and give the signal. Rich left me still able to communicate,” Mary confirmed.

“Quite a useful power that boy has. Don’t suppose I could convince you to wait until after dinner? Vince and I haven’t gotten to spend any time together for a long while.”

“That happens when you fake your own death to get away from him.”

“Given what you know about me, that should be the easiest motivation in the world to figure out,” he said, sitting back down at the table. “Some people knew I was still alive. I kept thinking I could keep him safe, but after a particularly close call... let’s just say I pray you never have to make the kind of decision I made that day.”

Mary dearly missed her telepathy right now, because she was having a hard time not believing the sadness and concern in Globe’s eyes. She could barely even think of him that way. In fairness, not many people are able to look intimidating while wearing a frilly apron.

“I don’t understand you,” Mary admitted after a moment. “This isn’t what I ever expected talking to you would be like.”

“To your credit, you’re handling it much better than most people would.”

“No, I mean, how can you act so concerned about Vince? You’re a damn criminal, you just admitted that, and yet you still are asking me to give you time to have dinner with him?”

“Mary, I know this is hard to understand right now, but we humans are multi-faceted beings. For example, I can bake an excellent soufflé, but I am utterly incapable of writing poetry worth reading. See the conflict?”

“Actually, no, not really.”

“Good, because there isn’t any,” he replied. “Baking has nothing to do with writing, just as me being a criminal doesn’t mean I don’t love and worry about my son. It is possible to be a bad citizen and a good father.”

Mary took a moment to stir her tea, the desire to have something calming her nerves outweighing any residual fear she felt that he might have slipped something in it. This was Vince’s mind, so he couldn’t hurt her real body, and somehow she doubted that Vince finding her slumped over at the table suited his agenda.

“Okay, let’s strike a deal,” Mary said at last. “What are you willing to trade if I wait a little while to go have them wake up Vince?”

“You’ve been hanging around Nicholas Campbell too much,” Vince’s father said, a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. “I’ll give you three things: a promise, a bit of advice, and a message.”

“Sounds vague.”

“I could throw in another cup of tea,” he said. “Or you could listen to what I’m offering and decide if it’s worth it.”

“Couldn’t I just listen and then screw you over?”

“Yes, however I like to think our next generation of Heroes can conduct themselves with a bit more decorum than that. So what do you say?”

Mary added a bit of honey to her tea and stirred it in.

“Deal. Now start talking.”