Marcus London woke with a start at the sound of a clatter. His hero’s instinct went into overdrive for a moment as he tried to figure out what made such an ungodly noise, but then it was followed by a series of mild curses. He smiled sleepily. His girlfriend never could bring herself to utter words that were truly profane. All was right with the world. He pulled the covers closer to his chin and snuggled deeper into the soft bed.
His eyes flew open. All was not right with the world.
He pushed himself out of bed and hastily pulled on his clothing that lay scattered on the floor. It took him a second to find his shirt wedged into the drywall where Lindsay had fired it with excited force. He tugged on it to no avail, so he left it embedded in the wall. Lindsay could pull it out herself later.
Shirtless, he wandered into the large room that function as a kitchen on one side and a living room on the other. Lindsay had her recording equipment set up in one corner—the one she kept spotless so that her podcast viewers couldn’t see the mess she usually lived in. She wasn’t recording yet, though. Her blue eyes were fixed on her laptop as she sat at the kitchen counter, delicate eyebrows drawn together. Her short hair fell over her face, and small fingers rubbed the stress from her neck.
“You got my shirt stuck in the wall,” Marcus teased, hoping to break the tension.
Lindsay looked up and smiled. “I’d apologize, but I’m pretty sure I more than made up for it last night.”
Marcus grinned. “I’d agree with you, but I know I gave as good as I got.”
“You liked it.”
She gave a shy smirk. “Yeah, that’s true.”
Marcus ducked behind the counter and wrapped his arms around Lindsay, the bar stool she sat on still only bringing the top of her head to his chin. He kissed her neck, willing himself not to look at the screen. He didn’t want to know what he would find there.
“Marcus.” He could feel his name vibrating beneath her skin. “They made the announcement.”
“Sh, that can wait.” He squeezed his shut eyes tighter still and teased her jaw with his lips. His hands slid down her hips, and he forced his mind to recall the night before, instead of focusing on the present concern.
“Marcus, I need to make a podcast of this. It’s too important. People need to know.”
He sighed. He couldn’t put it off anymore, so he opened his eyes and rested his chin on Lindsay’s shoulder. His hand folded over Lindsay’s and directed her to scroll back to the top of the page so he could see the title of the article.
Delta Division Disbanded by UN Committee Vote
“Marcus, this is a good thing. Maybe people will stop looking at us like a threat. If people aren’t scared of us, then we’ll be—you know—normal. We can live normal lives free to pursue hopes and dreams just like everybody else. Without the Delta Division to put us on a pedestal above your average citizen, we can be one of them.”
“Lindsay, how many collages rejected your application?”
Her gaze shifted away. “All of them.”
“It’s not your grades. They’re good. It’s not your community involvement, because lord knows you’ve saved more people in three years than most do in a lifetime. You’re a hero for crissakes.”
“Well. Except for that time when I was a bodyguard for a mafia princess.” She picked at her manicured nails.
“Okay, officially, that didn’t happen. Besides, we’re not talking Ivy League schools, here. Not to mention the first five apartments you applied to wouldn’t let you live in their building.” He took her hands. “Because you’re meta. The whole world knows it. They don’t care that we’re human beings with a complex set of motivations that have nothing to do with powers. All they care about is that we’re freaks.”
“Hey, you got into university.”
“Well, Eric’s money goes a long way.” He glanced to the side, embarrassed. It had taken some convincing to get him to allow that. He didn’t like the idea of taking advantage of his brother-in-law. “Besides, my identity is still retroactively protected, though God only knows how long that’ll last now that Delta’s over. There might have been some tabloid rumors, but that’s the only thing connecting me to the name of Spark Plug. You’ve always been open about your real name. Which is something you should be free to do without this kind of backlash. It should not be affecting you like this.” He let out an angry breath.
Lindsay smiled. “Aw, sweetie. You’re so cute when you get worked up like that.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “Loosing the Delta Division means we’ve lost the legitimacy for our community. Which means we’re just one more ‘protected’ class.” He pulled away to look at her. “And historically, society hasn’t done well with those.”
She laughed. “Since when do you have so little faith in humanity?”
Marcus sighed and rested his forehead against Lindsay’s. “Since I found out that the person who was supposed to save us all was willing to bet our lives in a bid for control.”
He kissed her quickly and walked backward toward his backpack with a lopsided grin forced onto his face. “Anyway, honey-lyn, if you wouldn’t mind retrieving my shirt, I shall be off and let you record in peace.”
She moved back toward him. “You’re not that interruptive. I don’t need to kick you out. You practically live here anyway.” She grabbed onto his belt loops. “You know we could make that official.” Her lips grazed his.
He pulled back, but not away. “I love you.” He kissed her. “But I think that’s a discussion for a time when our world didn’t just get turned upside down. One thing at a time, honey-lyn.”
* * * *
It took an hour for Lindsay to figure out what she wanted to say. She tried to muster some anger, but it was useless. She wasn’t angry.
She sat in front of her deskstop and turned on her equipment.
“The metahuman community, I’m sure, wants me to be outraged. How dare some faceless government take away our right to organization and purpose? But they haven’t. I’m not outraged. Just tired. Tired of being pigeon-holed, of being told I can only be this one thing, only be a hero. The Delta Division might be over, but heroism is not. Community heroes have existed since the dawn of time. You don’t need super strength to be a good person.”
She took a deep breath. “I spent most of my time in Delta trying to figure out what my purpose was. Why I was fighting. The truth is, I still don’t know. Perhaps…well, maybe that’s because we shouldn’t be fighting. We’re people, not soldiers. And today marks the day where we can no longer be asked to be soldiers just because we have powers.
“Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for those I’ve worked for—well, most of them. There are notable exceptions, obviously. But on that note, I think it’s important to point out that Samantha Clive hurt all of us—human and metahuman. There’s no us versus them there, so please don’t pretend that there is.
“But back to my original point—and I’m sure I’m going to lose viewers with this, but I’m tired of pretending this isn’t true. The very concept behind the Delta Division is fundamentally flawed. We don’t need organization because we don’t need to be a force. To date, Delta has been a farce, a magician’s trick, a-a distraction. Pay no attention to the man—or woman—behind the curtain, ladies and gentlemen, because she’s trying to take over the world.
“Well, you know what? I’m not going to be used anymore. And neither should you.”
No sooner had Lindsay put down their recording equipment than her cell phone buzzed on the desk. She frowned. Usually she turned it off while recording, but she must have forgotten. This news shook her more than she cared to admit.
The caller ID displayed Mitch’s name. Her head tilted in confusion. They’d kept in touch since Sam’s execution. Marcus thought he was an asshole, and Lindsay didn’t disagree, but she felt that he was the kind of person you didn’t mind being an asshole, because at least he was honest about it. They’d become friends who tagged each other in pictures on social media and messaged each other to see how their days were going, but this was way beyond that. Why would he be calling her?
Only one way to find out. She swiped the phone to answer.
“Lindsay!” The panic in his voice made her leap to her feet, and even hover a little. “There’s something…can—can you come over? To my house. There’s something wrong with the house.”
“What? Y-yeah, I’ll be right there, are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I think I’m going crazy.”
“All right, well just hang in there, okay? I’ll be right there.”
A selling feature of the apartment was the small balcony accessible by double doors. She shut them behind her and took off into the sky. She’d been by his place once or twice, mostly to trade borrowed DVDs, so she had little trouble finding it. She lit in front of his door. It opened before she could knock.
He grabbed her arm, and she went along, letting him drag her inside. “There’s too many rooms.”
“Bedrooms. Three bedrooms. Why?”
“No, that makes sense, one for you, and—”
“I didn’t even notice—well, I did, but I didn’t—not ‘til those stupid government assholes said they were repossessing the house because it belonged to the Delta Division—and I swear to fucking God, I will fucking torch their fucking mansions with them inside. They can’t fuck with me like that.”
“Mitch, you’re not making any sense!” She grabbed him about the shoulders. She’d never felt someone so hot—temperature-wise, of course. “Please, just calm down.”
“I’m calm!” he screamed, then said it quieter. “I’m calm. There’s too many bedrooms.”
“No, three makes sense. One for you, one for your mom, and one for your sister.”
Terror, fury, and abject confusion raced through his green eyes as he looked at her. Tears filled his eyes. “I…I have a sister?”
Lindsay’s eyes widened. “Oh God, no…” She licked her lips. “Mitch, why did you call me?”
He shook his head and looked away. His whole body trembled. “I-I don’t know. I just thought—” He looked at her. “Was there a reason?”
“Do you remember what you told me? About the Shadow Fae?”
He looked at her now, eyes wide. Another shake of his head. Then something else crossed his eyes and he glanced at the ceiling. “Wait. I-I…a Fae…I told you…” His gaze focused on her again. “A Fae has my family.”
He sat down heavily, barely making it to the living room couch. Lindsay sat beside him. “I forgot. I had a mother, a sister…and I forgot.” He buried his face in large hands, and great sobs shook his shoulders.
Tears sprung to Lindsay’s eyes. This was the worst possible thing that could happen to him, and her short-tempered friend wasn’t even angry. Mitch looked utterly defeated. Sam had been brought down, the Fae scattered. The battle was won. Why were their still casualties? It wasn’t fair. “I’m sorry.” Unable to help herself, she embraced him, her small frame encircling him, desperate to comfort him. “I’m so sorry.”
“I have to find them, Lindsay. They’re my family.”
“I know. We’ll find them somehow.”
He took a breath and wiped at the tears that fell down his cheeks. “You can’t tell anyone about this.”
“I won’t I promise. It’ll just be you and me. We’ll find a way to beat this Fae, to find your family.” She grasped his hands. “We can do this, Mitch.” She smiled a little. “We’re super heroes, remember?”