Chapter 234

                “… and I told him I’d think about it. Which I have. A lot. And the more I turn the idea around in my head, the more I can see all the reasons I probably shouldn’t do it. Learning from a Subtlety Hero might not offer me the best possible education, and given the way people feel about that specialty it won’t help me deal with the suspicion I already get from Globe being my father. Then there’s the fact that I know almost nothing about Jeremiah’s team, what they can do, or how they operate. You know me; I’m not good at blending in or being subtle. What if I end up slowing them down or putting them in danger? Sure, Jeremiah said he wouldn’t try to make me a Subtlety Hero, but there’s bound to be some of that if I’m on their team.” Vince finally paused, taking a drink of water from the glass on Nick’s coffee table. “There are so many reasons why I shouldn’t take this internship.”

                “But you’re still obviously thinking about it,” Nick noted. He’d been a little surprised when Vince turned up out of the blue, or rather when Jerome radioed in to let Nick know that Vince was approaching the apartment. Once his best friend was inside and seated, though, it had become immediately clear why he’d trekked over on a Saturday afternoon. The poor guy was torn up over the internship offer, trying so hard to make the “right” choice that he’d twisted himself into knots. Uncertainty and doubt were Vince’s biggest weakness, he could lose himself for days when he wasn’t sure what the right next step was, but once he had a goal in mind the guy was damn near unstoppable.

                “Yeah, I am,” Vince admitted. “Is that crazy? All these reasons not to take it, but I can’t shake the idea from my head.”

                It was definitely crazy. Logically speaking, the cons outweighed the pros considerably. The rational move would be to politely thank Jeremiah for the interest then sign on with a beloved Hero who could lift Vince’s reputation past the point of suspicion. However, it was also plain to Nick that logic wasn’t really the thing on trial here. Vince liked the idea; he wanted to take the internship. This was him looking for someone who would make him feel like it was a good plan.

                “Taking the internship with Jeremiah is a terrible idea.” Nick didn’t particularly enjoy watching Vince’s face fall at his words, but this was a necessary step to get the conversation to its appropriate conclusion. “Sorry, but it is. All the things you just listed are spot on, and there are plenty of other issues you haven’t considered. If you want me to tell you I think it’s a sound move, I have to disappoint you.”

                “Oh.” Vince’s eyes wandered back to the coffee table, watching condensation move slowly down his glass. “Yeah. I knew that, I guess. I just wanted to see if there was some angle I wasn’t considering.”

                Nick shook his head. “Practically speaking, no. You thought this one through pretty well. This internship is a bad idea. But here’s the caveat, Silver: a lot of the things you do are bad ideas. Refusing to quit believing in a guy like me even after I gave you plenty of reasons to walk away was a bad idea. Telling Dean Blaine that you were going to help people during the attack on Lander even if it meant you’d be expelled was a bad idea. Trying to throw away your memories to stay with me, taking on an amped-up Super by yourself, refusing to denounce your father who is a known criminal even though it would make your life easier: all bad ideas from pretty much any perspective. And yet, in what must be the biggest ‘fuck you’ to logic and causality since my power came into existence, you’re still going strong. I don’t always get it, but over time I’ve learned to accept it. While you often don’t make the smart choices, or the rational ones, you make the ones that feel right to you and that seems to be working out so far. So putting aside all the reasons why it might be a bad idea, what do you want to do?”

                As seconds ticked by, Nick could actually see Vince’s doubt slipping away as resolve took its place. That was the real trick to managing Vince, giving him a way around his uncertainties. Once he had that, the guy could pretty much take care of himself. By the time Vince looked up at Nick, his face was almost perfectly set with determination.

                “I want to take it. I know I’m not as smart as most of you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get smarter. That I can’t learn. In terms of where I sit right now, I’ve probably got as much raw power as anyone else in the class. What I don’t have is the kind of brain that can let me always use that power properly. Camille beat me with a simple trick during our winter final, and that’s not something I can afford to keep falling for when the stakes are real. I think Jeremiah can make me a better Hero.”

                “Well, I certainly don’t want to put words in your mouth, but that sure sounds like you’ve got your answer,” Nick said. “I’ve never known Vince Reynolds to take any path except the one that leads to him being the best Hero possible. And for what it’s worth, your track record proves that you might want to listen to those instincts of yours, no matter what logic might dictate.”

                Vince let out a short, unexpected laugh. “It’s funny, Jeremiah said something like that. Told me I have good instincts when I get out of my own way.”

                Nick’s assessment of Jeremiah’s analytical skills rose by a few degrees. It was easy to throw off Vince’s success as good fortune or him muscling through on raw strength, recognizing his real potential took someone with more attention to detail. “If I’d heard nothing else about the situation already, that alone would make me think it’s an idea worth considering.”

                “Thanks. I needed to hear that. I knew you’d be-”

                The sound of the doorbell interrupted their conversation, and moments later it swung open as Mary strode through. She had a backpack over her shoulder that was visibly weighing her down but still greeted both of them with a smile. “Hey guys. Hope you don’t mind that I let myself in, this thing is heavy.”

                “I keep that door locked,” Nick pointed out.

                “And I move things with my mind, things like deadbolts. Truly, how will we ever solve this perplexing mystery?” Mary dropped the backpack to the floor and stretched her spine. “Thanks for agreeing to help with this project anyway. Vince, you take your time, I’ll go make some tea and get out of your hair.”

                “No, it’s fine,” Vince said. “I think we pretty much got through what I wanted to talk about. I should go do some weekend training. You two knocking out homework?”

                “My economics class wants me to create a plan for a mock business, and no one knows more about making a buck than Nick.” Mary mentally lifted the backpack over to the kitchen table, where it landed with a solid thud. “You’re more than welcome to stay though. It won’t be fun, but it will be communal.”

                “Thanks, but I think I’d rather fight Chad and Roy at once than try and wrap my head around that stuff. I’ll see you back at the dorms tonight.” Vince got up from the couch and paused to glance at Nick. “And thanks, Nick. This helped me out a lot.”

                “Anytime. Unless I’m in class. Or on a date with Alice. Or in the restroom. You know what, let’s go ahead and just say most times so I’ve got some wiggle room.” Nick waved to Vince as his silver hair vanished through the doorway. From the window, he watched Vince walk down the stairs and start heading back to campus. As he stood there, Mary quietly walked over to join him.

                “If you’re wondering, he bought it.”

                “He’s Vince. Of course he bought it. He trusts us implicitly; which is all the more reason we have to keep him miles away from this,” Nick replied. “Now start getting things set up. The next Take Back Lander meeting is in a few hours and we’ve got quite a show to prepare for.”