“I’m Guardian Angel, as you’ve apparently all figured out,” Sean said as he leaned against the closed door.
“I didn’t know,” Wren said from where he was lying on his bed. “But it makes sense.”
“I think everyone else knew,” Sean said, looking around at each of us. I nodded, and saw Sasha and Kevin do the same.
“I’m Dark Archon, I guess,” Kevin said. “I didn’t pick the name.”
“It’s a cool name,” Wren said.
Kevin looked at Sean and said, “Sorry, by the way. I know I did some bad stuff, but…
“Don’t worry about it. You had your reasons,” Sean said.
Kevin held his hands out in front of him and cracks appeared in his skin, starting with his fingers. They splintered apart, shards of crystal floating in the air around the jagged black spikes that were left of his forearms. Some of the shards of them had thin layers of skin left on one side. “I’ve known about my powers for a while, since early in high school, when I met Wren. There was a shooting. I, uh,” he paused. “I was out in the hall when the school went into lockdown.”
“You don’t need to explain,” Sasha said.
Kevin closed his mouth and nodded. The shards of crystal settled back into their original position, fitting seamlessly together.
“Long story short, Wren found out I had powers. He kind of freaked out, but we’d been friends long enough that we worked it out.”
“Wait, why would being a metahuman matter?” Sean asked.
Wren sat up on the bed and pulled his knees up to his chin.
“My parents are members of Homo Purum,” he explained. “Which explains the Denudine, I guess. I don’t know how they knew I had powers when I didn’t even know, but… it would make sense.”
“Woah,” Sasha said. “Aren’t they a hate group?”
“They’re not that bad!” Wren protested. “Okay, most of them aren’t. I’m not defending the group, but my parents were mostly okay.”
“You say this after they lied to you and drugged you for most of your life?” Kevin said in disbelief.
“Well, yeah,” Wren said. “They’re my parents.”
I guess I can understand that.
There was a moment of silence. “Well, I’m not anyone special,” said Sasha, picking up the conversation. “Beyond being me, obviously. I can teleport, but only when nobody’s looking, and I can tell what people are looking at, but only if I can see them or if they’re looking at me. I think. It’s weird.”
“They’re all weird,” I said. “Trust me on this.” Everyone looked at me. “What?” I asked.
“You’re next,” Sean said.
“Oh.” I should tell them. I need all the help I can get. “I don’t think-” I started to speak on reflex, then stopped myself. “Okay. I’m Shadow.” I forced myself to say it for the second time that night.
“Wow, really?” Wren said. “We’ve got a crime fighting duo in the room next door!” he said to Kevin, then turned to me. “By the way, thanks for the rescue.”
“That was you?” Kevin asked.
“It was,” I confirmed. Kevin sat up straighter and a thoughtful look came over his face.
“Wait, hold on,” Kevin said. “Isn’t Shadow- aren’t you a criminal? You worked for Underhand, that Upright Man guy, and Blackwell. That kind of says villain to me. ”
“Okay, you’re the second person who’s mentioned that today. Where the fuck is everyone hearing about this?”
“It’s on your metawiki page,” he said as if it were obvious. Sasha laughed, but quickly stifled it.
“Seriously?” I exclaimed.
“He was the one who got Wren and Charity back from Blackwell, Kevin,” Sean said. “And he definitely never worked for Virtue. I was there.”
“Thank you,” I said, exasperated. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go edit a metawiki article.”
“You might want to keep it,” Kevin said. “I mean, it does seem kind of useful. As long as the good guys know not to arrest you I don’t see why you couldn’t just go undercover as a supervillain.”
“Because it goes against the whole reason I started doing this!” I said. “I don’t want to go down the same road as my dad and end up a villain just because my parents were.”
“It shouldn’t matter what people think,” Wren said. “As long as you’re doing good, things.”
“And as long as the law enforcement knows it,” Sasha added.
“It’s not that simple,” I said. “It’s a slippery slope. Sure, I got Charity back from Blackwell, but I had to steal a suit of armor from Temple Sun to do it. Now Temple Sun’s trying to hire me to-” I stopped, remembering the fragment of news I’d overheard.
“To what?” Sean asked.
“They’re trying to start a gang war,” I said, glossing over the truth. “They figured out that Blackwell stole from them somehow and they want… revenge? I don’t even know.”
“That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, especially since Blackwell doesn’t really have any competition now. I sure as hell don’t want Blackwell running the city,” Sasha commented.
“Gang violence is not a good thing.”
“Hear me out. You could push back against Blackwell. Take over one of the gangs, and keep them from doing too much bad stuff. If Blackwell has no competition, what’s to stop them from taking over the whole city?”
“Besides the local heroes?” Sean said.
“What local heroes? There’s you two and maybe one other guy for the whole city. Everybody else’s been scared off or killed off.”
Sean looked like he’d been punched in the gut. He took in a shaky breath.
“Oh fuck,” Sasha said, eyes widening. “I am so sorry. I totally forgot. I’m so sorry.”
Sean let out the breath. “It’s okay. What’s done is done.” There was a pause before he continued. “Just because the leadership is gone doesn’t mean the rest of the gang is going to vanish,” he returned to the topic. “The Specialists have still been holding territory, and I doubt the Anchor Boys are going to go away completely even though Scrapyard got caught and I killed Davy Jones. Now they’re just going to be less stable. Less predictable.” That’s true. Even if Myriad is gone, her lieutenants can probably keep the gang together, but the Anchor Boys are already infighting.
“You killed Davy Jones?” Kevin said.
“Yeah. Tide of Sky was Davy Jones,” Sean explained. “That’s confidential, by the way.” How can he tell people stuff like that so easily?
“Is that possible?” asked Sasha after a stunned pause.
“It is. There’s someone named Randolph Ermen going around turning people into Nightmares, somehow.”
“We’re going to get dragged into this, aren’t we?” Wren said. “‘cause now that I know, I have to help somehow.”
“That reminds me, what do you do?” Sasha asked Wren. “I know it’s a change of subject, but I need a lighter topic of conversation and we never did answer the question.”
“I have no idea,” Wren confessed. “I teleported once, I accidentally made my coat invisible somehow, that’s about it.”
“Sounds like a joker power,” Sasha said, “Unless it’s just really weird, which we’ve established is a possibility.”
“Well, Sasha can teleport, and Liam could turn invisible,” I said. “So far, what you’ve done is teleport and turn something invisible. Maybe there’s a common thread there somehow.” Could they be right that it’s better to stay… notorious?
Wren’s face lit up. “Oh! I think I got it.” He leaned over and carefully poked Sasha on the cheek.
“Hey!” she said, and stood up.
“Let me try this,” he said, and with the same finger, touched a glass sitting on the desk next to his bed. “Hm,” he said, when nothing happened. “Nevermind.” As he spoke, the glass vanished and reappeared on the floor in the center of the room.
“Woah, what?” Sasha said. “Did you just…”
“Yeah, that was yours,” Wren said. “I think it might be a one shot thing though. May I?” He hopped off the bed and approached Sean. “I want to see if it works on other people.”
“Um, okay,” Sean said. “I’m not going to end up in space or something, am I?”
Wren looked confused. “No. Of course not. Does that happen normally?”
Sean also gave a confused look, but extended a hand. Wren took his hand for a moment and then turned and touched the glass again. The effect was almost immediate this time. A golden glow appeared around the glass; lighting up the patch of carpet around it.
“Wait, what?” Sean exclaimed.
“Oh, I get it,” Sasha said. “It’s based on who you’ve touched recently. That’s why you were able to… um,” she looked abruptly self conscious.
“We get it,” Kevin sighed. “You and Wren are a thing.”
“And then the invisible coat is because you’d touched Liam?” I said, bulldozing over the awkward moment. “That’s actually really cool. We need to introduce you to some more metahumans.”
Wren grinned excitedly. “Oh man, that’s such a relief. I was terrified it was a joker power or something. I don’t want to have to deal with that.”
At that moment, my phone rang again. Not the bird noises of my personal cell phone, but the buzzing from my Wardens communicator.
“One moment,” I said, and stepped out into the hall.
“Hello?” I said into the phone.
“Shadow, this is Dr. Mind. Savage just left a message that he wants to talk to you.”
“Good. I need to talk to him. Oh,” A thought occurred to me. “Do these communicators keep track of where they’ve been?”
“They do, yes. The console is down, so I can’t look at it from here, but you should be able to access it through the Team Tracker function.”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll be right there.”