meanwhile our fever is running (superhero au part 2)
“This,” he explains patiently, “Is to stop superhero discrimination. It doesn’t make sense for the Act to still exist – it’s been almost twenty years, and nothing has been solved. Crime rates have gone up, insurance has doubled, it’s making people turn on each other.”
“Daniel William Penvrane!”
Daniel sighs, curses under his breath, and tries to duck below the top of his cubicle. Unfortunately, he is both too slow and too tall for this to happen as quickly as he likes, and he makes eye contact with his sister even as he’s diving down. A moment later, she’s rounded the corner and is standing in front of him with her hands on her hips.
“Hey, sis,” he greets her, pretending to be opening a cabinet lower on his desk.
Tatiana shuts it with the side of her leg and scowls at her brother when he looks at her in surprise. “Do you know what one of your officers did today? He arrested my son!”
“Amory’s here?” Daniel widens his eyes and glances vaguely in the direction of the police station that the holding cells are in. “He won’t last a day in prison!”
“I know, but I meant Eos,” clarifies Tatiana, crossing her arms over her chest. “I think he’s been falsely arrested.”
She lowers her voice. “They say that he’s been using his powers publicly, but that can’t be right. Eos wouldn’t do something so reckless after what happened to his parents, and they didn’t even give him a chance to explain. They just woke him up and took him!”
Daniel frowns. “Alright, I’ll look at his file and see what I can do. But Tatty,” he hesitates. “They’re cracking down harder on supers who accidentally reveal themselves.”
“I don’t think he did it,” insists Tatiana, “He has control. And even if he did, he’s just a boy. They can’t actually lock him up.”
Daniel looks at her grimly, but she’s already turned away, peering past him to try and see the holding cells. He doesn’t have the heart to tell her that they’re all the way on the other side of the building. Instead, he says, “Go home, Tatty, get your kids ready for school. I’ll deal with this here.”
She isn’t convinced, but a glance at the clock reminds her that she still has five lunches left to pack. “Get him out,” she says to Daniel as she turns and storms out of the station.
Max Bryants leads his head around the nearest cubicle. “Was she mad?”
“You have no idea,” Daniel mutters under his breath as he rubs his temples and then starts rifling through the morning’s reports.
“I heard Eos got arrested this morning,” Bonnie says, her eyes wide as she whispers to Clara under her breath in homeroom.
Clara has been pretending to finish her calculus homework, but a muscle in her cheek twitches. “Yes,” she says slowly.
Before she can answer, Jack plops down next to them. “What happened with Eos?” he asks.
News clearly travels fast.
“You’re not in your assigned seat,” Bonnie says accusingly, “You’re meant to be over near the M’s.”
Jack waves off her concern. “What happened with Eos?”
“They thought it was theft,” Clara replies automatically with the prepared excuse that her and her siblings had been briefed on this morning by their mother before she’d left for school. Even if the charges against Eos were probably not true as she felt must be the case, there was no point in exposing his powers.
“Was it the ice cream? Because if so, then he gets a free sundae every four hours so it’s not like –“
“It wasn’t ice cream,” Clara cuts off Bonnie.
“What was it?” Jack asks.
“Uh,” her blue eyes dart over his shoulder at the window, where she can see the parking lot and the outline of his motorbike. “I think a motorcycle? I mean, he probably didn’t do it, but they’re going to question him now, anyway.”
Rather than concerned, Jack looks impressed. “He wanted a bike?” Jack lets out a low whistle. “He could have just asked for a ride on mine. It’ll probably get sorted out soon when they figure out that he didn’t do it. He wouldn’t even steal ice cream.”
“Yeah,” agrees Clara, right as the bell rings and Mrs. Swifte enters to take attendance. Jack languidly walks to his seat, but the brunette glances over to the other side of the room, to the empty seat behind Nadine’s, and frowns thoughtfully.
Cecilia isn’t sure whose bright idea it was to combine her gym class with that of the grade two above hers, but she’s stuck with Belle’s year anyway. She narrows her eyes at the sister from across the field and then stalks over to her own classmates, tugging on a green colored jersey while Belle does the same with a yellow one.
Of course she’s worried about Eos and the whole situation with getting arrested, but Cecilia has other things to worry about – right now, namely avoiding detention. She’s already faked some excuse to sit out last time they played football in class and she would have done the same now if she wasn’t already under extra supervision by the teacher. It’s not that she doesn’t like sports, she just feels that if she’s going to compete with Belle, it needs to be in something that she knows for a fact she’ll win in.
Belle, however, looks distracted by the events of the day. She could never lie the way that Cecilia does; her face would give her up too easily. She stands near Charlie, speaking under her breath, and then hands him a tissue when he sneezes and rapidly covers up his mouth.
She doesn’t have much time to dwell on this. “Gray!” the coach calls, and she hesitates before she turns. “Little Gray,” the coach amends, seemingly oblivious to her glare at his words, “You’re on offense today.”
Cecilia was on offense every day. She stood in her position and ran forward as soon as the whistle was blown to kick the ball straight to her unsuspecting sister, the goalie. The whistle blows. “Gray!”
A moment later, there’s a sigh from the coach. “Little Gray, Big Gray, both of you get out here.”
Amory is, of course, sitting right at the front of the room, his face almost bent to his notebook as he sits doubled over his notes. They say that biology is difficult, and he has to agree, but at least no one can say that he isn’t prepared; the desk is taken up by a notebook twelve different colored pens, various highlighters, four pencils, and two erasers. He’s writing furiously, constantly switching colors whenever he needs to.
Someone nudges him behind him and he ignores them. There’s a more insistent nudge, and he lets out a sigh, glances up at his teacher, and turns quickly. “What?”
Richard Moran-Jameson doesn’t look particularly pleased as he drops a folded sheet of paper into Amory’s hand. “Joanna, not Sophie, if you’re curious,” he drawls under his breath, rolling his eyes a moment later. “Will you keep your girl problems contained? They’re making life at school hell for me.”
“Your girl problems are making life at home terrible for me,” counters Amory, but he snatches up the note anyway and turns, slipping it under his notebook. As soon as his teacher stops talking about the nephron and begins to draw it on the board with his back to the class, Amory unfolds the page.
Do you still like me?
“What’s it say?” Ricky leans over his desk slightly to peer over Amory’s shoulder, but the darker-haired boy hides it under his notebook.
“Why do you care? I thought I was making your life…” he hesitates, unwilling to say the word.
“If I’m the one acting like a delivery pigeon I should at least get to see what all my efforts are for,” Ricky replies.
“All you did was pick up a paper and move it to me.”
“Yeah. Your girl problems are exhausting but I’m not going to miss the free entertainment.”
Amory knows that it’ll probably easier for both of them if he doesn’t struggle. He pulls the paper out from under his notebook. “It just asks ‘Do you still like me?’ and it’s got two boxes to check off. I thought they’d be for yes or no, but they both say yes?”
“It looks like she’s not giving you much of an option,” muses Richard with a smirk. He looks attentive for a moment as Mr. Hart turns around to highlight a point, but then when the teacher isn’t looking, quirks a grin, “How are you going to respond to that?”
Amory’s ears turn red. “Uh, well, is there a fill in the blank option? Could I just write my own response?” Evidently, based on the two ‘choices’ he has, he cannot. He leans forward and scribbles something down, folds it back up, and hands it back to Ricky.
Ricky unfolds it and then folds it back up before passing it over his shoulder languidly to make its way back to Joanna. “You’re ‘focusing on your studies’, really?”
“I am,” Amory says under his breath, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return to learning the parts of the nephron. Kidneys really are fascinating.”
He turns back around and resolutely picks up his green pen to start writing again, his attention diverted only when he see his little sisters walking past his classroom on their way to the nurse’s office.
“Do you have to create extra work for me?” Tatiana’s upset, and her hazel eyes flit to the mirror to look at her younger daughters as they clamber into the minivan. “Daffodil, are you alright?”
“The nurse says it could be broken,” frets Isabelle as she slides into the passenger seat. “Mum, could you –“
She’s barely finished before Tatiana moves closer, moving her hand soothingly over the other’s nose, swaddled under bandages. It rights itself quickly and Isabelle sighs, sitting back in her seat.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself? This is the second time this week that the school’s called me!” Tatiana turns on her youngest daughter next.
“I don’t know why they needed you to pick me up too, I’m fine,” pipes up Cecilia, but at her mother’s narrowed eyes in the mirror, she huffs and crosses her arms over her chest, “What? It was just football, it wasn’t anything personal.”
“It was definitely personal!” Belle whips her head around and scowls at Cece in a way that she could only inflict on her little sister. “I was just doing my job and defending the goal and you kicked that ball straight at my face!”
“And I was just doing my job and scoring! What’s your problem?” counters Cece.
“Stop it,” Tatiana says firmly. “Cece, why are you acting out? Is it about the Eos thing this morning? Are you upset or nervous?”
Cecilia suppresses a groan. “That’s all anyone can talk about today. Why does everything have to be about Eos? He’s not even your kid, just worry about the ones you already have.”
“I have enough room in my heart to worry about all of you,” Tatiana corrects her sharply. “I just don’t understand why you’ve been getting in so much trouble lately. Is there someone bothering you at school? Are you trying to get some sort of reputation? Do you want – “
“Mum,” Belle says urgently, seemingly fighting her instincts to watch her little sister gleefully as she gets a scolding as well as her instincts to avoid conflict at all cost, “Does Dad know?”
Her mother is quiet for a second. “He does, but he couldn’t pick you up today because he said that work wouldn’t let him go.” Tatiana frowns, “I hope that guy whose surgery I was meant to do doesn’t mind having it postponed until tomorrow too much.”
Belle wipes at her bloody nose with a tissue, turning to look out her window, and then she frowns. “Isn’t that Jude?”
The wheels of his desk squeak as Benj rolls over to one side of his cubicle, picks up a stack of papers, and rolls back to his desk. In the past, his job had been torture and he’d been spending the whole time just counting the minutes until he could return home to his kids. Now, however, he’s working faster than ever.
“Any news on that illness?” his boss, a Mr. Nightingale, asks as he steps by.
Benj straightens up, his papers nearly scattering in surprise. “Not yet, Sir.”
“Isn’t your wife a doctor?”
“Yes,” Benj says hesitantly.
His boss shrugs. “Maybe she’s heard something. The first reports are coming in that the solution we’re trying to use to expose supers is making them sick, just like we hoped. Some of them are a bit more explosive than we’d expected, though. Did you hear about that building yesterday?”
Benj’s head is swimming. “What solution?”
“Were you not there for the meeting?” His boss widens his eyes. “Oh, I guess it must have been classified for level five and ups only. Now it’s company-wide knowledge, but you have to keep it to yourself. We think that this’ll make it way easier to find supers. Much less time-consuming than going through records or old pictures or newspaper articles, you know?”
“How is this solution even going out?” Benj is trying not to look suspicious, but his mouth is unnaturally taut.
“Through the water, of course. It doesn’t affect normal humans, but the water can affect you if you’ve got powers, or even if you’re a super and you come into contact with someone else who’s sick.” Mr. Nightingale pauses. “Actually, you should come to the next meeting now that it’s slightly declassified. It’ll make your job so much quicker.”
Benj tries to smile. “I don’t find the supers, remember? I just try to find them new jobs and relocate them.”
“That might change now,” his boss says gravely. “You hear about that guy, Nathaniel or whatever? The one who went crazy and got really destructive? There’s another report like that coming in from Ireland, and one from Australia, and a few in the US. This is widespread now; you’re probably going to have to do some proper hunting. I don’t think the government is going to be so forgiving to its hidden supers if they’re causing this much destruction.”
There’s a call across the office and the man looks away. “Anyway, I should go talk to Hamilton about his latest report. You keep up the good work and prepare yourself for change.”
Benj waits long enough for Mr. Nightingale to leave before he grabs his phone and is out through the doors of his office to take shelter in the parking lot for a moment as he dials a number.
“Daniel? You’re never going to believe this…”
“What are you doing?” Cecilia is the first to ask the question as she stands beside her mother and Isabelle on the lawn, peering curiously at the boy.
Jude is lying on the grass in front of the school with a painted sign, and sits up. The squirrel that’s been chattering to him scampers away, and he tries to appear as if he hasn’t been listening to the ramblings of the small creature for the past few minutes.
“Aunt Tatty! Belle! Cece! Hello,” he says with a smile.
“Aren’t you meant to be at university?” asks Belle.
Jude’s smile fades slightly. “Yeah, I was.” He’s been studying political science for the last few months at the nearest university; it’s still about a month from Christmas, but Tatiana hadn’t expected to see him until then.
“This isn’t another animal rights campaign?” asks Tatiana uncertainly.
Jude shakes his head fervently. “This,” he explains patiently, “Is to stop superhero discrimination. It doesn’t make sense for the Act to still exist – it’s been almost twenty years, and nothing has been solved. Crime rates have gone up, insurance has doubled, it’s making people turn on each other – Naoki helped me with the statistics,” he adds proudly.
“What does the school have anything to do with it?” asks Cece.
“Well, everyone driving by the school will see my sign and my protest, plus kids have to hide their powers if they were born with them in school.” Jude’s eyes dart back and forth, knowing well that both he and his cousins and aunt are supers themselves, even if it’s not safe to say so out loud when they don’t know who’s listening.
“Does your father know that you’re back?” asks Tatiana, arching an eyebrow.
“I only just got back,” Jude points out. “And, anyway, I’ll come home soon. I just need to make a statement now.”
She’s always heard that children got more rebellious and more aware of current events when they went to university. It had been true for Tatiana, and now it was true of her nephew, but something about the feverish look in his eyes makes her hesitate. “Did something happen?”
“I just thought that it was a good time for a break after the riots,” explains Jude.
Belle is perplexed. “What riots? Did fees go up again?”
Now it’s Jude’s turn to be confused. “You mean you didn’t hear about them?” When the girls shake their heads, he goes on: “There are riots all over the world right now about supers causing chaos and destruction all of a sudden. Some people think that we’re – they’re –“ he tries to correct hurriedly in case anyone overhears them, “starting some revolution and trying to make our way back into society? I don’t think that’s the intention, but I’m just trying to advocate for peace.”
Tatiana can’t blame him for that. “I think you should let Daniel know that you’re home. Do you need a ride, Jude?”
“No thanks,” Jude says, waving them back to Tatiana’s minivan. “You get home. Maybe wipe the blood off your nose, Belle. I’ve got to make a statement.” He flops back down on the grass and the squirrel comes running back as the Grays return to the car.
Eos is sitting in the holding cell with his arms crossed as he glares through the metal bars. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he calls out, but the agent who’s sitting in the desk closest to him doesn’t look up. “I only just turned eighteen!” There’s still no reaction, and then he sighs. “If you don’t let me out soon, I’m going to start doing the Cell Block Tango,” he threatens.
The agent sighs and rubs his eyes. “I don’t know why I got saddled with the kid,” he grumbles.
Daniel Penvrane strides in and barely glances at the other agent. “I need a minute with Mr. Rutherford to answer some questions,” he says to the other agent, who leaves willingly.
Eos crosses his arms and sits back on the bench. He knows that Daniel is Tatiana’s brother, and yet he doesn’t feel any real warmth right now from this side of the cell. “I thought I couldn’t say anything without a lawyer present. Is Mr. Fitzroy around?”
Daniel shakes his head. “It’s not about that.” He hesitates, and before Eos can say anything, the nearest door is opened and Benjamin Gray slips inside the station and flicks his hand at the security camera which lets out a high-pitched buzz and then goes still, the light going out.
“What’s going on?” Eos asks, standing up suddenly.
“We’re breaking you out, kid,” Benj says with a grin as Daniel reaches for the keys in his pocket and turn them in the lock. It’s only been maybe six hours, but Eos is suddenly awash in relief as he steps out of the cell and stares in wonder at the adults.
“Is this even legal?” The eighteen year old asks.
The two men exchange a look that makes it plainly clear that it isn’t, but Daniel shrugs and ushers them toward the door. “We’ve got to go. They’ll be onto us soon.”
Benj’s car is waiting outside, and the three of them quickly get in and drive off. Eos aims a grin at the older blonde. “What, you’re a proper getaway driver for criminals now?”
“You’ve been in a holding cell for six hours and you already think that you’re badass enough to have a getaway driver?” Benj asks, his blue eyes flitting to the mirror to look at the boy.
Eos learns back, lacing his fingers together behind his head. “Prison changes you,” he replies wisely.
There’s a beep from behind her and Clara turns, a second from getting into her car as the one beside her rolls up slowly.
“Need a ride, doll?” calls Ricky through the open driver’s side window.
Clara grins. “I have a car,” she points out, tilting her head at the little yellow car that she’s standing behind.
“I still thought you could use a ride,” Ricky goes on, and then smirks, “and I don’t just mean in my car.”
“That’s so gross,” Nadine chimes in, popping her head out of the passenger side of Clara’s car and scowling over at the boy. “And isn’t my sister always hanging off of you for a ride home?”
Joanna pops her head out of the passenger seat of Ricky’s car, mimicking her sister, and scowls. “Shut up, Nadine, Ricky offered.”
“I didn’t,” Ricky says under his breath, “Why don’t you take Clara’s car, Nadine, and Jo can come with you?”
“Do you think I can drive? Why do you think I hitch a ride with Clara?” Nadine brushes choppy fringes behind her ears and frowns.
“You’re a freeloader,” answers Clara with a good-natured roll of her eyes.
“Oui,” accedes Nadine.
Joanna sighs. “Alright, Dicky, if you really want to, I’ll drive Nadine home in Clara’s car and you can take Clara back to our street. Don’t be too long, I need your help with history homework.”
Clara tosses Joanna her keys and swaps places with the younger brunette. “Amory’s got to pick up his science Olympiad project and then he’s walking home, so he’s not going to get a ride with you,” she adds to Joanna, and ducks into the boy’s car quickly before the other girl can change her mind about driving arrangements.
Clara grins over at Ricky. “That was relatively painless. I thought that you were going to have to bribe her.”
“You don’t think that I could have charmed her?” Ricky says, lifting his eyebrows.
Clara makes sure that the windows are closed, both drowning out the Renault sisters’ bickering and keeping their own conversation contained, before she answers. “I think that you could have charmspoken her, sure, but at least you didn’t have to.”
“You can’t blame me for being born with a silver tongue.”
“No,” agrees Clara, and then smirks coyly over at him as he begins to drive, “but I can get you to put it to good use.”
Amory’s cradling a wooden car in his arms, going over the plan over and over. It’s meant to be propelled six meters by an energy source, but no matter how hard him and his group mates try, the car won’t go that far. Sometimes, it even goes backwards. He’s tired of reasoning through why it isn’t working and just wants to go home and curl up on the couch to watch some trashy soap and complain to his mother.
He steps inside the home on Sweethome Lane and carefully places his wooden car on the steps before shrugging off his backpack and heading to the kitchen. “Why are you both home already?” he asks his younger sisters when he sees them glaring mutinously at each other over the kitchen table.
“Ask her,” Belle starts, “she kicked a soccer ball at my face.”
“I was playing a game, you don’t need to be such a crybaby about it,” snaps Cece.
Amory rubs at his temples, tired of playing the mediator. “Okay, can you two just finish your homework and worry about this later? Is it something that chocolate can solve?”
“No,” the girls say simultaneously.
Belle hesitates for a moment even as Cecilia resolutely repeats her answer.
Tatiana returns to the kitchen, ruffles her son’s hair, and moves to the fridge. “Alright, I’m going to start making dinner and then head to the station to see if any progress has been made with Eos, but I’ll make an extra serving anyway for him. Will one of you get the pasta and start measuring out servings?”
Belle does as her mother asks and then the doorbell rings. Tatiana excuses herself for a moment to answer it to find the Renaults on her doorstep, all of them frowning. “What’s up?”
“We can’t find Mum,” says Murphy, the first to speak as he pouts up at the woman. “Did you see her at the hospital today?”
“Er,” Tatiana darts a glance back at her daughters, “I was only at the hospital for half the day today, but no, I didn’t see her when I was there. I assumed she was off.”
“She’ll turn up sooner or later,” Joanna says resolutely, but even she looks at her house further down the street and frowns. “We just came to see if you knew where she was or if she’d told you that she was going out for groceries or something.”
“Well, there’s no use staying there by yourselves. Come in, you can join us for dinner.” Tatiana opens the door wider and calls over her shoulder, “Belle, count four more servings.”
Belle dutifully does as she’s told, and then there’s another ring at the doorbell. Amory, who’s bent over Cecilia’s geometry problems to avoid looking directly at Joanna, is quick to answer the door and finds his friend and Clara on the doorstep, both mildly disheveled. He lets out a groan.
“Oh, stop whining, Am,” Clara says at once, stepping past him to stride into the kitchen. “Mum, do you have any idea what’s going on? The other end of the street is completely closed off. Ricky can’t even get home because there’s crime scene tape all around his house.”
Tatiana has turned her attention to the boy walking in behind her daughter, crossing her arms over her chest. “Oh, so you brought Ricky home, did you?”
“You’re missing the point,” Clara groans, sinking into a chair at the table.
Belle is trying to be helpful. “You’ve got a little lipstick here,” she whispers to Ricky, pointing at his jaw as she measures out another serving of noodles to account for the newest arrival.
The door opens, this time without the preamble of a doorbell, and Daniel, Benj, and Eos come rushing in, locking the door behind them (with Belle quickly counting out another serving for her uncle as well).
“Eos!” cries Joanna, seeing him first.
Clara and Amory glance at each other in a silent battle of who will get to him first, but they both go running at the boy and crash into him in a giant bear hug that knocks him down backwards, but he only laughs.
“How’d you get out?” asks Amory, helping the boy back up a moment later.
“Your Dad and uncle broke me out,” Eos says, shooting a grin at Benj. “It was so cool. He took out a security camera and everything.”
“You broke him out?” Tatiana asks, her smile from seeing Eos home fading as she suddenly rounds on her brother and husband. She turns to Daniel first. “I thought that you were meant to be Mr. Morally Upstanding.”
Daniel raises his hands in defense. “Normally I play it by the book, but today Benj called me from work because he found out something awful.”
“You won’t believe what they’re doing, Tats,” Benj starts, “It’s all a set-up. They’ve been –“
All the commotion of the Grays’ kitchen is cut off by the sound of the phone ringing. The room goes silent.
“Don’t pick that up,” Daniel warns his sister. “It’s probably about how we broke out Eos. Benj and I are no doubt going to be in so much trouble for that if he didn’t take out the cameras properly.”
“I did my job,” Benj bristles, “We just have to worry about that other agent dobbing us in. He’s the one who saw you enter the holding cells to talk to Eos.”
“It could just be the hospital,” Tatiana says with a worried frown, “I’m on call since I had to leave early. My kidney patient might be having some issues.”
Despite her husband and brother shaking their heads at her, she lifts the phone. “Hello?” She straightens then subconsciously as she always does when her workplace is calling, making noises of assent into the phone before she stops suddenly. “Oh? Are you sure?” A pause, and then she swallows. “How?” There’s an answer, and she nods, lets out a small sigh, and says, “Alright, thank you for calling.”
She puts the phone back.
“Was it the hospital?” asks Benj. “Just your kidney patient, right?”
“It was the hospital but no, they were actually looking for Daniel,” says Tatiana cautiously.
Daniel’s eyes widen. “I told you that they were looking for us! Benj, something must have gone wrong when we were at the station –“
“It’s not that,” Tatiana cuts him off, and then her voice wavers. “It’s about Jude. He’s dead.”