“Thank you for meeting me. They didn’t give you any trouble, did they?”
Cameron slid into the other side of the booth. Creed had a laptop set up in front of him and a cup of hot coffee placed beside it. He had said the words casually, but she knew the importance of making sure she wasn’t being followed. “No trouble,” Cameron said. “They’ve been a lot more willing to let me go do stuff now that I’m officially on the team. Still on probation though, obviously. Can’t rock the boat too hard.”
Creed nodded, looking back down at the screen of his laptop and started to type. “Yes, that’s why I chose here to meet. A lot less suspicious to meet somewhere public, a simple conversation between lawyer and client. If anyone asks, you have more than enough evidence to back up your claim.” He took a sip of coffee, putting it back exactly where it was when he was done. Cameron’s powers also came with a good sense of position, so when she said exactly, she meant exactly. She always thought it was weird how he could do that. “Would you like anything?”
“I would, if some big shot lawyer would be willing to pay for a poor high school student.”
He paused in his typing to give her a look. “I thought it went without saying that I’d take care of the bill. If it needs to be said then, yes, Cameron, I’ll pay for whatever you want to order.”
“Cool,” she said, smiling. She waved over a waitress, who had been looking at them from the other side of the counter. She ordered a plate of fries and chicken fingers, and a glass of orange soda. When the waitress left, Cameron turned back to Creed, who was working away on his laptop still. “So, what do you want to talk about?” The place was loud enough between the music playing and people talking that they didn’t have to worry about being overheard as long as they talked normally.
“The future, and I do apologize for not giving you my full attention, I’m very busy. It’s hard to manage the workload of two demanding, full-time jobs.”
“You’re going to tell me what exactly I’m doing wearing a white hat?”
“Not exactly, not yet, anyway. Combined with my precogs interfering, not telling you until it’s necessary will throw off any precogs watching your future. What I can tell you, however, is that I’ve been planning a takeover for awhile now.”
She sat up straighter in her seat. “Seriously? Hasn’t the guy running the TG’s been there for ages? Bad and good guys have teamed up but still haven’t managed to kick him off his throne.”
“Yes, I know he’s powerful, I know how loyal many of his followers are to him. I’ve been with them for long enough to know how they operate, how he operates. This is a plan years in the making, Cameron. Taking my time to put all the pieces in the proper place. I highly doubt I’ll get a second chance at this, if I fail.”
“Okay, I’ll trust that you know what you’re doing, you being the mastermind and all. I’m one of these pieces?”
He gave her a nod. “You’ll have to forgive me for arranging your capture, it was necessary. As far as pieces go, you’re fairly important.”
“This is what you meant, right? When I first joined up with you and you asked me what I was willing to do.”
“And you answered that you’d do whatever, as long as I don’t fuck you over. I don’t want to pressure you into this, if you’re unwilling I’m more than capable of making new arrangements to get you out of where you are now. I can find someone else to fill your role, although I do prefer you. You can back out at anytime.”
She wondered if he said that knowing she was going to agree and go along with his plan to take over the True Gods. Not because she was some puppet, incapable of thinking for herself, but he knew the kind of person she was. Without him, she’d probably be dead right now. That wasn’t a minor thing and she hated leaving debts unpaid. “Well, I guess as long as you’re not fucking me over, I’m in,” Cameron said, lightly.
Their conversation paused as the waitress came by and dropped off her meal and drink, resuming when she was gone.
“I will be sending you your escape package soon, regardless. In case anything were to ever happen to me, I wouldn’t want you to be trapped in my plan.”
She dipped a fry into ketchup. “What do you even want me to do?”
He had looked up from his laptop screen and met her eyes. “For now? Nothing. Continue doing what you’ve been doing, get their trust, be as good a superhero as you’re capable of being. Within reason, of course, no need to suddenly become a girl scout. And lastly, most importantly, keep your eyes open, watch your teammates and other heroes closely for suspicious behavior. I’m certain our opponent has spies within the SAA, I’d like to find out who is and isn’t one.”
“You planted a spy for the purpose of looking for spies. That’s – wait, the note you sent me. Is that what you were talking about?”
Creed dipped his head in a nod, returning his attention back to the screen. “Yes. Care to explain your surprise?”
“Nothing, I guess. Thought you meant something else, something I saw the day I got the note. It was probably, well, I don’t know. Shared hallucination, maybe,” Cameron said dismissively before shoving a couple of fries in her mouth.
“If you think it’s nothing, then it’s nothing. If you change your mind, I am here to talk, no matter when. I owe you for helping me with this, I’ll make time.”
His tone was so nonchalant, so matter-of-fact. Not the bombshell she felt like it was. She drank some orange soda to cover the big smile she could feel about to form on her face. She’d feel really dumb if he saw it.
“I’m pretty sure it’s nothing.”
“Then it is.”
They fell into a comfortable silence as Creed worked and she ate.
“Agent Hayes has been treating you well, I hope? I can cause a lot of trouble for him, he’s already standing on shaky ground, been for awhile now.”
That was tempting, very tempting. Cameron sighed. “He’s annoying but not that bad. That offer is still on the table if I change my mind?”
“Of course, Cameron. I’m at your service.”
She was still getting used to the new room. It was bigger than her old one, which was nice, and she didn’t have to hear agents running back and forth, at all hours of the day. The only people on this floor were superheroes like herself, most lived offsite but they still had rooms. She hadn’t actually seen any of her new teammates since she moved all her stuff into the room last night. Cameron had thought she would at least see Ionic, since she lived in the building too.
Maybe Ionic didn’t go to school? It’d explain why Cameron didn’t see her up this morning. Maybe she already graduated.
Something she had to ask about if she found a good opportunity. As far as spies went, Ionic was pretty suspicious given her connections to those crooks at the Wrench. A good place to start all this spy hunting shit.
She was in the middle of writing an essay when her phone rang, the incredibly catchy song she had as her ringtone too loud to ignore. She found where she had tossed it and slid her thumb across the screen to accept the call. “Hello?”
“Hey, heard from Sarah they’ve loosened the leash a little. Need to talk to you. Think you can sneak out and meet?” Ian, sounding oddly desperate.
Fuck English class.
“I can sneak out of anywhere.”
“Meet me at my apartment, see you in a few.” He hung up.
Ian had the dubious honor of being the one who convinced her to run away when she had been stuck in a facility for troubled super-teens, basically a group home for young superhumans. Not that she was hard to convince, she hated it there. He also ran a motorcycle gang, the Speed Fiends, they mostly drove around town at insane speeds, sometimes committing crimes. They were in it for the thrills, and with Ian’s power backing them up, it was nothing but.
Cameron grabbed a jacket, before moving to her window, and teleporting herself to the sidewalk across the street. Ian lived in a dingy apartment in the bad side of town, the kind of place where people didn’t call the cops or ask questions. She was pretty familiar with the area, she grew up in the neighborhood and came back after she had run away.
He opened the door after the second knock. Ian embodied the classic bad boy, messy black hair, a leather jacket, and it was obvious he worked out. He smirked. “That was fast, bet you rushed here, so excited to see me.” She rolled her eyes and pushed past him to get inside his apartment. Looked the same as always, his clothes were thrown everywhere, dirty dishes and empty takeout boxes took up space on tables and chairs. It’d probably be an absolute mess if Sarah didn’t come by occasionally to clean the place up.
Ian laid down on the couch, leaving Cameron to sit on the other couch. His small TV played some action movie on low volume.
“How much freedom are they giving you?” Ian asked, failing to sound disinterested.
“They took off my tracker yesterday, I’m going to take that to mean I can go wherever I want. Pretty sure they’re not following me around either.”
“Took you three months to earn their trust, huh? Are you sure about them taking off your tracker? I don’t want your new pals to know where I live.”
Cameron shrugged. “I talked to Creed last night, he checked to make sure.” She gave him a long, hard look but he kept his gaze fixed on the television screen. “What the hell is going on, anyway?”
“Honestly, I fucked up and now some scary fuckers are after me. I’ve been trying to get them to back off but they’re persistent.” He sighed. “There’s not a lot the guys can do to help. They’re just ordinary guys, not like you and me. Besides, you’ve got experience with this kind of shit.”
“Wait, you’re not seriously talking about that one time I got kidnapped and almost killed after I pissed off the wrong people? That definitely does not make me an expert in dealing with scary fuckers. I had to get bailed out by Creed.” It was how they met, actually. Their first time meeting and Creed saved her life.
Ian turned to meet her eyes. “You’re all I got, Cameron. I don’t have a lot of friends who can help.”
Who could say no to a face like that?
“So, these scary fuckers, they got names?” Cameron asked, casually.
“I feel like I should get you to agree to help me before I tell you. Don’t want to scare you away.”
Cameron scoffed. “I don’t scare easily.”
He broke their eye contact and stared at his feet. “It’s Gladwell.”
She stared at him for a moment, waiting for Ian to admit this was one of his lame ass jokes. He didn’t. “…Yeah, you know what? Forget what I just said.”