Cameron doubted Agent Brown had wanted them to spend their day off in Allison’s workshop, building a better, faster forcefield generator. They were in there working until almost three in the morning. Allison really wanted it done as soon as possible and had no problems staying up late. Cameron had no problems staying up either. It was her power that stopped them from doing anymore work, it used too much energy. Cameron couldn’t have kept it up any longer unless she wanted to knock herself out from overusing her power. They might have gotten more work done if Kate had been there too help, she was an inventor too after all, but Kate had to go home while Cameron was meeting with Agent Camelo. Unlike the two of them, Kate had a life outside of being a superhero.
A good way to replenish energy was to eat, whether that was actually true or just something people said because it sounded like it could be true, Cameron didn’t know. There were still a lot of unknowns when it came to superpowers. Allison had a mini-fridge, stocked with food, so she wouldn’t have to leave if she got hungry. Cameron snorted when she explained her reasoning. “Do you ever, like, take a break? You know, go out and have fun?”
“I consider this fun,” Allison said, as she crouched down to grab a pair of water bottle and sandwiches.
She grabbed hers then sat on a stool near a mostly empty workbench. “Yeah, but what about broadening your horizons?” When that didn’t get any reaction from Allison, Cameron said, “Are you trying to tell me Agent Brown never gave you that speech?”
“To be fair, only one of us here is a known criminal,” Allison said, before taking a bite out of her sandwich.
Cameron unwrapped hers. “Known criminal, sure but who knows what you get up to behind closed doors? You have plenty of free time too, since you don’t go to school.”
“Who told you I didn’t?”
She waited until she bit, chewed, and swallowed before opening her mouth to reply. “Educated guess. Am I wrong?”
“No, you’re not. I hear I’m not missing much.”
“Well, that depends I guess. If you’re a certain type of person, school is lots of fun,” Cameron said. If you were popular and had a ton of friends, that is. It was hard to imagine Allison fitting in well at any of the public high schools in the city. Maybe at Lalonde, the school only allowed the best and brightest to attend. She had actually gotten accepted there, and went for a week until she realized it really wasn’t her kind of place and transferred to Augustine. Everyone had been a little too preppy and intense about their education for her tastes. The workload at Augustine was a lot easier to manage, too. If her dad had been around, he wouldn’t have let her transfer. He was a hardass when it came to school.
Hanging out with Kate, meeting with Agent Camelo, and working with Allison had helped keep her mind off of her dad, who was probably still in town. She briefly considered trying to find him, let him know how much it hurt when he left, maybe do more than simply letting him know.
No, doing that would be counterproductive. She wanted to move on, forget about it, not throw herself back into it the first chance she got. It was the reason she never went looking for her parents or asked Creed to use his resources to track them down for her. As satisfying as it might be for her to punch Dad in the face, it’d probably be more painful for her, just seeing him.
Cameron finished her sandwich and teleported the plastic wrap above the garbage can in the corner. It floated down, joining the rest of the trash.
“Do you always use your powers like that?” Allison asked, frowning.
“For things you could easily accomplish without them.”
It didn’t really cross her mind to stand up, walk over to the garbage can, and toss it in there. “Yeah. Why? You have a problem with it?”
“No, I don’t. I was just curious, my – the place I grew up, they were very much against using powers frivolously.”
Cameron wondered what Allison was about to say. Her home? She felt like there was a story there but she doubted Allison would tell her if she asked. “A lot of people are,” Cameron said. “They’re scared. It reminds them what we’re capable of, when pushed too far.”
Allison smiled briefly at that. She rolled her plastic wrap into a ball and threw it into the trash with remarkable accuracy. “It’s late, you should go to bed.”
She glanced over at a holographic screen displayed in front of one of the walls. Along with the date, weather, news, and stock market information, it had a clock in the corner. “I guess it is. I’ll see you later.” Cameron rose from seat.
She left. The halls were unsurprisingly empty at this time of night. Even if she went straight to bed, she’d still be dead tired, too tired for school. They wouldn’t expect her to go to school, right? Not with Gladwell still on the loose somewhere in the city, doing who knows what. Then again, maybe Agent Camelo didn’t intend to include them in the search at all. He had said he thought all of three of them should be given time to rest but didn’t specify how long and he brought up the point of them being teenagers still. Teenagers were allowed to be superheroes but that didn’t mean their bosses had to treat them the same as their adult peers.
As long as Gladwell was taken care of, Cameron didn’t care. Doing what she had done yesterday – or the day before yesterday, now – was more than enough. She had done her share. Agent Camelo and his crew could handle the rest and then Ian would be safe. Everybody wins, except for Gladwell but who the hell wanted Gladwell to win?
Well, maybe somebody did. Cameron wasn’t as connected to Avocet’s criminal underworld like she used to be. The two biggest players in town wouldn’t want Gladwell to stick around, Creed and the Automatons needed Avocet to stay peaceful, fewer tourists would come if they thought Avocet was unstable. All the other criminals tended to follow their lead most of the time, unless they spotted a good opportunity. Gladwell coming and instantly getting everyone’s attention was a pretty good opportunity. People would be too busy dealing with Gladwell to deal with them.
Cameron reached her bedroom. She changed into her pajamas and hopped into bed.
She woke up hours later, heart hammering away in her chest, memories of dark, impossibly cold smoke smothering her still vivid in her mind. The nightmares were getting better, until recently.
She told herself she wouldn’t let it bother her, wouldn’t let him being back change anything. If it was that easy to ignore your problems, it wouldn’t be considered a problem.
Since she was up, might as well go get ready. She checked her work phone first. The phone periodically received status updates about the general state of the city. Most of the time, it said things were all good. This wasn’t most of the time. Apparently Agent Camelo’s team were already out there searching, along with Droid and Spy, a member of the team she hadn’t gotten a chance to meet yet. Every other hero was to remain on standby.
Oh god, she only got four hours of sleep.
After she was done getting ready, Cameron grabbed her backpack and slung it over her shoulder. Normally, an agent would drop her off at school, usually one of the low-level ones, sometimes Agent Brown did it. The agent in question typically sent her a text telling her where and when to meet them in the parking lot. She hadn’t received any messages which meant they didn’t expect her to go. Cameron wasn’t planning on going but if anyone passed her in the halls, saw her with her backpack on, they probably wouldn’t ask any questions.
Cameron left the SAA building through the back door, which led to an alley behind the building, sandwiched between the building and a coffee shop. Teleporting out the window would have been faster but might have ruined the whole secret identity thing. Personally, she didn’t care all that much. The SAA was pretty big on maintaining secret identities, so whatever, she’d take the long way.
Once she got to the sidewalks, she went to a bus stop across the street from the coffee shop. She had to wait ten minutes for the bus to arrive and from experience, she knew it’d take twenty minutes to get to her stop after getting on. The SAA had plenty of cars in their garage that just sat there, collecting dust. They were willing to put her out in the field, endangering not only her life but the lives of her teammates, but letting her use one of their cars was too much responsibility for her to handle, apparently.
Those twenty minutes passed by slowly. She played a game on her phone but it still felt like it took forever for the bus to get there. It was a bit of walk from the bus stop to her destination but it was way better than taking the bus. At least when she was walking, she was moving, being active.
Ian’s apartment building was awful, as always. She knocked on his door. The sounds of shuffling and bed sheet ruffling could be heard from the inside of the apartment. Ian opened the door just enough to poke part of his upper half out the door – his naked upper half. If Cameron had to guess, his lower half was just as naked. “You have someone over,” Cameron said, a statement.
“Yeah, so either scram or come join.”