Well, so the first chapter was pretty bland. This one is too, but the next one is not going to be, I promise! It's going to have action.
When Brent woke up, his head was killing him, his fingers were stiff, and his back was shouting angrily at him for the abuse of leaning over a table. He picked his head off the laptop. As he looked around, his vision blurred in the sea of small lights. What time is it? And why are the curtains drawn shut?
Soft snores emanated from a lump in the corner of the room. He blinked and rubbed his eyes in an effort to get them used to the darkness faster. Slowly the shape became clearer, more familiar. A small smile crept across his face. Harvey. That explained the curtains. Harvey must have closed them at some point, so that they'd actually get some sleep. Idiot. Sleep is for the dead.
He laughed under his breath before turning around. His eyes scanned the room for the blanket he kept up here. When he found it, he clutched it in his half-numb fingers and draped it over Harvey. Then he walked downstairs to escape any responsibility for the kindhearted action.
Matt and Tom were already awake and semi-motivated. Tom was cooking breakfast, something with eggs and cinnamon and bread and pretending to be a five star chef. Matt was sitting at the table, his focus entirely on the meal Tom was making. Brent got a cup of coffee, slid into a chair and flexed his fingers to ebb away the pins and needles. He took a sip and whined under his breath. Tom turned around with a flourish, showing off something in the griddle – oh, French toast. His eyes landed on Brent and he froze, shocked to see his teammate downstairs already.
He put the hot, sugary mess on Matt's plate, not breaking eye contact with Brent. "Um, I'm sorry. I would have made enough for three if I'd known," Tom said in a halting voice.
Taking another sip, Brent scoffed as he watched Tom be on his very best behavior around Matt. "Harvey's up there. Didn't want to wake him. He's a real bitch when if I wake him up."
Matt watched the conversation between them, a look of confusion on his face. Brent said nothing else.
Tom offered, "If you want I can-"
"No, thank you." A spark of annoyance flashed brightly in his eyes. It was an unspoken agreement that Brent could get his own food, he didn't need your help, for fuck's sake. He glared at Tom, warningly, and continued icily, "I'll make my own."
Tom attempted a smile, tried to smooth over the nerves he'd just disturbed, but Brent still sat there with an angry glimmer in his eyes as he drained his cup. Tom realized this would just have to smooth over on its own, so he turned to Matt and said it was alright to dig in.
Matt smiled. Tom's cheerful tone didn't match the slight tension in the room. Actually, no. The tension, if it could even be called that, was really just a bit of friction. Like someone just brought up a memory that they'd thought they'd forgotten. These guys are nuts. What did I get myself into? But despite the uncertainty in his thoughts, in his heart, he was elated, and so he happily thanked Tom and started eating.
There wasn't another incident. Brent finished his first cup and started on a second. Eventually Harvey came downstairs, stumbling in the brighter lighting, and Tom made breakfast for him. When Matt finished, Tom took his plate and looked to him. He said, "Want that mission brief now?"
Tom put the dish in the dishwasher and smiled when Matt nodded. He motioned for him to follow as he walked in to the adjoining room. Once in the living room, Tom sat on the faded arm chair and Matt sat on the couch opposite it.
And he would swear to his dying day that Tom looked exactly like any one of the eight therapists he'd gone to.
"Our mission is simple. There is a group of superhumans who want to eliminate the humans. They are called the Neo-Super-Nazis, or NSN. The group that fights directly against them, they call themselves Brigade. We're on Brigade's side. We often have to stop NSN's terrorist attacks. There is also a group of Norms who want to get rid of the Supes; Nyx.
"That's two groups against us, Matt. Two groups that are prone to attacking, and attacking often. Are you sure you want in? You can say no."
"I want to be here," Matt insisted stubbornly.
Tom sighed. "Just how old are you? Sixteen, seventeen?"
"Nineteen," Matt huffed indignantly.
"You're small," he said by means of an explanation. "You may be fast but-"
"Look, I understand the danger. I'm still here."
He sighed. "Then you need to know more about your new teammates. I'm called Full Guard. I have super strength and endurance. Brent is Shockwave. He can control electricity. Harvey's Harbinger. He can control energy. Make blasts of it, imbue it into an object, explode things. I am the leader of this group. What I say goes. You don't listen, you endanger the whole team." Tom looked for a confirmation from him. "Got it?"
Matt gulped, shocked, but nodded slowly. Tom's stern gaze didn't waver or break. He stood up and said, "Good. Good. That's as much as you need to know. I'll be in the basement if you need me." Then he left, no doubt to go down and punch the hell out of some poor sandbag. Or to spar against Harvey, one of the two.
Matt sat there for a while, thinking about what Tom had just told him. He was so lost in his thoughts that he jumped a foot in the air when someone in the doorway cleared their throat. He spun backwards to see who it was.
Brent walked with a leisurely gait and a mug of coffee in his hand. He didn't seem to care that he'd just scared the daylights out of Matt, or that he was wearing only his boxers. It made Matt wonder if Brent had some sort of social disorder.
"Good of Tom to leave out the big stuff," Brent deadpanned.
Matt muttered an articulate "huh?" and Brent's mouth curled in a wry smile.
"Oh, the big stuff. Stuff you legit need to know. Stuff that may sway your stance. Teammates need to know the worst about each other."
"Alright, so tell me."
"First off- Brigade, we're not officially with 'em. We're like the sister branch they don't know exists. They're a security risk to us. Yeah, that's what I said. Don't look so... Shocked." Brent laughed, both at his pathetic pun and Matt's disbelieving face. "Brigade is stupid enough to have a master list of each 'employee' and their security is laughably lacking. And Nyx has a list, based off that list, calls it a bounty board. Different prices and rewards for different Supes. Yeah, forgive me for not wanting a bounty on my head. So I remove our names when I need to. Their security is better than Brigade, imagine that! Ha! Like I said, laughably lacking.
"And there's the little matter of other vigilante groups. Most notable example – Valentine's group: Nightmare, Glint, Arrow, and the man himself, Valentine. Him and Harvey go way back. There's a feud between the two, no, I won't tell you why, it's not my place to tell.
"Oh, speaking of Harvey – Harvey Harbinger Hale, holy alliteration, Batman – his power's pretty damn awesome with very few drawbacks. He just has to follow the laws of physics, not that hard to do, though I manage to forget to follow them, but that's another story. His real fault is he's a fucking terrible leader." Matt's eyes went wide at the insult. Uncaring and offhandedly, Brent continued, "Can't lead an ant out of a paper bag. Got the ideas of a great leader, can lead himself just fine. It's when the responsibility of other people's lives is put on him that he sucks. Just not made to take that pressure, I suppose.
"Tom, however, is. Which is why he's the leader. But Tom's so called super-strength is, heh, not really super-strength. It is, sorta, when compared to a relaxed human's strength. But he's never really relaxed, so his body, eh, compensates for that. More adrenaline. Less chemical inhibitors. Ergo, it is merely a maelstrom of fucked up genetics. You know the bone song... The ankle bone is connected to the shin bone and all that, right? Well, his emotions are connected to his muscles which are connected to his bones, and high emotions means lots of exerted strength, and lots of exerted strength means stressed bones, and stressed bones means broken bones. Which he doesn't always feel. I mean, he's broken bones enough times that they're stronger and can take a bigger beating, but still. He can be injured and only make it worse, the jack-ass. So, try to keep that in mind." Brent seemed to be content leaving it there. Matt frowned.
"What about you? You've given the dirty on all your friends but you haven't told me crap about you. Hardly seems fair to me or to them. Besides. Teammates need to know the worst about each other."
"Damn, I need to learn how to word things better. Fine. I generate electricity. No, I do not break any laws of physics by doing that. My cells vibrate faster than a norm's does and the friction causes electricity. I have larger vacuoles in my cells and extra mitochondria to hold this electricity. I can't turn it off so if I don't release the pent up energy, there are... Issues. Muscle spasms. Fires. Over all bad stuff. That seems to be all that's important about us."
He waited expectantly. It took Matt a little to realize why, and when he did, he squirmed uncomfortably.
"T-There's not much to tell," he whispered.
"Any PTSD, SAD, BPD we need to know about? Any cancers, any addictions, any pulmonary issues, any mental handicaps, any STDs?"
"No! No, no. Wait, what?"
"Pulmonary- pertaining to the lungs."
"No, I knew that, an aunt of mine had pulmonary edema. I'm talking about the- the last one. Why would you even think –"
"That a nineteen year old boy ever had sex?" he rolled his eyes. "Oh, I'm so sorry to have insulted your purity."
Matt blushed heavily. "Oh... Right. I got tested. Nothing."
"No HPV, HIV, herpes, AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea...?"
"Yes, you have them or yes, you don't?"
Matt was about to groan and punch Brent in the face before seeing the same slick grin as he'd worn last night.
"You just played me," he laughed. "How'd you do that?"
"Genius, remember? Come on, I'm getting some more coffee. Want some?" They walked back into the kitchen. Brent made a bee-line for the machine.
"Oh, yeah. That'd be nice."
Brent filled his mug again, for the third time that day, took a sip, and smiled amiably at his teammate. "Good. Get some yourself."
Matt was just about to really punch him in the face that time when Tom rushed in wearing a costume (really, there was no other word for the blue and yellow disaster) and threw some outfit at Brent. "Actually," Tom snapped. "Get your ass in gear. We have an issue."
Brent sighed, put his mug down, and pulled the suit on over his boxers. (His was black and blue, much less in your face.) Somber and stone-faced, Brent ordered, "Matt, you stay here."
"Harvey's already on scene," Tom said. "You have the V.A.W.T?"
"It's not finished." Brent protested, once, but still handed over the device from Matt-didn't-know-didn't-want-to-know-where. Turning back to Matt, he repeated, "Stay. Here."
And then Matt was left alone, standing in the middle of the kitchen that wasn't his, next to a cup of coffee that wasn't his. He ran his hand through his hair. The sudden silence deafened him. In such a short span of time, he'd grown accustomed to the presence of the vigilante superheroes. A room without them seemed just so empty, so quiet.
He found himself tapping his hand against his thigh and pacing to burn off the nervous energy. His wings twitched. His eyes darted to the door. Should I stay, or should I go?
Fuck. I don't know where they are.
So he settled himself in the living room for a long wait. A long, useless, pointless wait. He was going to go on the next one, even if it meant wearing a pink costume.