Chapter 168

Chad tried to ignore the steady repetition of knuckles against his dorm room door. He’d been doing well for half an hour, but it was plain the person on the other side wasn’t giving up. He could have turned himself deaf, but then he might have missed a call from his mother. She would have been at work all day, and she wasn’t one to watch the news, but it was inevitable that she would see what happened, that He was still alive. Chad could ignore a lot of things with impunity, today especially. The call she would surely make to him was not one of those things.

Giving up, he walked over to the door and pulled it open. Shane and Angela stood on the other side. A quick glance at the light bruising on their hands told him they’d been trading off turns knocking on the door. It spoke volumes that these two siblings had been able to work together with such efficiency and manage to not dissolve into bickering. Chad said nothing; he simply walked back to his bed and sat down. Angela plopped down in his desk chair, while Shane seemed to prefer standing. The door swung shut and silence regained its sovereign rule, which proved to be a brief respite.

“How you doing there, Slugger?” Angela asked, spinning slowly in the chair as it made circles.

“Slugger?” Shane’s voice was exasperated, but not surprised.

“You think I should have gone with Sport, or Ace?”

“I think you should, maybe just this once, show a situation the respect that it’s due.”

“Ohh, you mean be boring and gentle and tiptoe around the fact that the guy who iced Chad’s dad just showed up alive on the news. Or maybe you think I should ice-skate over the fact that he has a kid in class with you two.”

“For God’s sake, Angela. Do you have any bit of sensitivity in you?”

“Only in spots I am damned sure not going to talk about with my brother in the room. If you want to get scarce, I might be willing to do some divulging with Chad.”

There was a snort of sound that interrupted them, a noise more foreign to Shane than Angela. It took him a moment to realize that Chad had allowed a small laugh to escape from his solemn face.

“There we go, I knew you were alive in there after all,” Angela said, bringing her spinning chair to a careful halt. “See, that’s the problem with you, Shane. You go into a serious situation and want to make it more serious. Friends lighten shit up.”

“Right, hinting that you’d bang my friend if I left is clearly what every psychologist in America would recommend doing in this situation.”

“This situation? You say that like this has happens three times a month. I think we’ve officially set sail in uncharted waters.”

“Green Genes.” This one came from Chad, and managed to quiet the siblings’ sniping immediately. “Happened twenty-seven years ago. A Hero known as Green Genes lost control during a battle and accidently killed another Hero called The Chairman. Rather than face charges, he faked his own death in order to undertake a covert mission infiltrating a gang of criminal Supers. Five years later he returned from the dead. The Chairman had two children that had to find out the man who killed their father was still alive. So, not entirely uncharted waters.”

“Why in the hell have we not taken you to do trivia night at one of the bars around here?” Angela asked.

“What happened to Green Genes?” Shane added, working in vain to try and keep his sister focused on the issue at hand.

“He died in the line of duty three years after coming back from his fake death. No foul play was suspected.”

“Here’s a better question: what happened to The Chairman’s kids?” Angela tossed out.

“Neither of them were Super, so they went about their lives normally. There are reports that Green Genes visited the family frequently, helping out in whatever ways he could. He spent the rest of his life trying to make up for what he’d taken away from them. By all accounts it was as cordial a relationship as you can have with a parent’s killer. When he died, they even went to his funeral.”

“I think we have a very different situation then,” Shane observed.

Chad shrugged, his face still largely impassive. “The man who killed my father is alive. I don’t expect he’ll be stopping by to beg my forgiveness, but then again, I didn’t expect to see him on the news today either. I don’t know how to go forward from here. I know I want to meet him, to fight him, probably even to kill him. More than anything, I want to ask him why.” Chad’s voice did not crack on the word why, nor did any moisture appear in his eyes, which only demonstrated the true extent of his power over bodily control.

“Maybe one day you’ll get the chance,” Shane said.

“True. Or we could go beat up his kid and see if he knows anything,” Angela suggested.

“If Vince knew his father was Globe, or that he was alive, then he is an actor of such spectacular talent that we would never be able to glean any truth from him,” Chad replied. “I don’t bear him any ill will in all of this. In a strange way, I suspect he and I are going through a lot of the same feelings.”

Angela opened her mouth, no doubt with some sarcastic barb or inappropriate quip; however, she was interrupted by a crisp knock on Chad’s door. She and Shane exchanged glances of confusion. Chad was their friend, but the rest of his social circle was somewhat limited. They knew Roy had stopped by to help last time, but it seemed more likely he’d be with his own people, looking after Vince. Shane walked over, gave a quick glance through the peephole, and pulled open the door.

“Thank you, Mr. DeSoto,” Dean Blaine said stiffly. “Chad, I was wondering if I could have a word with you?”

“Sure,” Chad replied, not looking at the door.

The dean stood still for a moment, then turned his gaze toward Angela and Shane. He said nothing, but the message could not have been clearer.

“We’ll swing by tomorrow for breakfast,” Shane said, heading toward the door.

“Or any time tonight if you need to talk. Or spar, I know how you love to spar. Just call me. Any time. I mean it.” The genuine concern and lack of lightness in Angela’s voice stunned everyone in the room. It was one of the secrets she knew well: if you gave very few things weight then the ones you did were all the more powerful.

Dean Blaine shut the door behind the DeSotos then turned to Chad. “I’ve gotten an old friend to teleport us to your house whenever you’re ready. She’s aware of the news and is waiting for us. You’re excused from the next week of classes, but I’m afraid it’s not in my power to get you out of the final match.”

“That’s fine,” Chad said, his voice still calm and detached. “Thank you. When do we leave?”

“As soon as you feel composed enough to go.”

“Composed?” Even as he said it, Chad noticed the sudden rush of thickness to his voice and the way the room had grown blurry. People often forget that emotions come with, and often from, chemical shifts in the brain. Unless he was caught by surprise, Chad’s ability allowed him to keep such things under constant control. With Dean Blaine in the room, that control had been suspended, and now Chad was subject to all the things he’d been working so very hard not to feel.

Chad placed his face in his hands as the last shreds of his composure dissolved in a torrent of tears.