“So,” Francis stared at Adelaide, “let me get this straight… you just happened to overhear three random people plotting together in a dark alley to steal someone’s brooch.”
“Yeah,” Adelaide replied, “look, I know it sounds silly but it honestly happened. Come with me to the alley today and you’ll see I was telling the truth. That’s when the guy said he was going to meet them to pick up the brooch.”
“Right,” Lee spooned some yoghurt into his mouth, “and then we can… fight them? You don’t possibly think that it might be a better idea to, oh I don’t know, Call the police?”
They were sitting around the Allens’ kitchen table, waiting for Lydia and Emma to show up. Adelaide, who had secured everyone’s phone numbers in a previous training session, had called the meeting, and, as the cold weather of the previous day was still hanging around, Francis’ had suggested they meet up at his house. Adelaide hadn’t complained, it seemed a sensible enough idea to her. Besides, another day of chilling herself half to death did not appeal. Lee, incidentally, appeared to have recovered from his cold.
“Of course we can’t,” Adelaide raised her eyebrows at him, “for one thing this is our chance. This is our big opportunity to show the world what we can do. Besides do you imagine the police will believe a bunch of teenagers telling them that story. You had trouble believing it yourself.”
Francis opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a knock at the door. Francis looked at Lee. Lee looked at Francis. Francis got up to get it. Lee grinned and had another spoonful of yoghurt. A few seconds later Francis reentered with Lydia, who stared around her at the kitchen with unblinking eyes. Offering her the seat he had vacated moments before Francis leaned against the table and watched Adelaide intently.
“These two criminals,” he said, “if they even exist, that is, I imagine they’ll not exactly just instantly yield to being attacked.”
“Yeah, but we outnumber them,” Adelaide shrugged, “I didn’t see their powers, but I don’t imagine they’re that impressive or they wouldn’t need to work together.”
There was an awkward pause. Lee’s eyes swivelled from Francis and Adelaide and back again. Adelaide realised a few seconds too late that she’d just made a grievous error.
“I mean…” she said quickly, trying to save the sinking ship, “assuming they were super-human anyway, which they obviously might not have been.”
“What the hell Adelaide!” He said, waving his arms about, “just because they’re criminals doesn’t mean they’re super-humans. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Look at me. Do I look like a criminal to you? Do I? ‘Cause if I do then maybe I shouldn’t be in this stupid team anyway.”
“Whoa,” Lee stood up and put a hand on Francis’ shoulder, “cool it dude. It was an honest mistake, right Adelaide?”
“Yeah,” Adelaide felt shaken. It wasn’t so much Francis’ reaction, which all things considered was entirely reasonable. It was what she’d said. It had been without thinking, but still… “I’m really sorry.”
Francis glowered. In the distance there was another knock at the door. Francis looked at Lee. Lee looked at Francis. Lee wilted and sloped off to get the door.
“Well,” Francis sat down in the vacated chair, “accident or not, there better not be any more dumb stuff like that. I’m not in the best mood.”
Lee and Emma walked into the room. Lee’s eyes widened at the sight of Francis in his seat but he thought better of saying anything. Glancing over Adelaide saw that Emma looked a little less cool than usual. Her hair was a mess and she had dark rings under her eyes. Seeing an avenue with which she could change the subject, Adelaide leapt for it.
“Are you alright?” She asked.
Emma glared at her. For a moment it looked as though she was going to ignore the question, but then she seemed to sag.
“Not really,” she said, “my girlfriend just dumped me.”
“Oh right,” Adelaide said, surprising herself with her genuine concern, “that must be hard. I’m sorry.”
Emma searched her face for any hint of mockery. Finding none she nodded and gave a grudging ‘thanks’.
“What she dump you for?” Francis said bitterly, “being utterly faithless? If so I can totally relate.”
“Shut up,” Emma snarled, “you’re not exactly the expert on girlfriends now are you?”
Francis looked like he was about to say something back, so Adelaide stood up and spread her arms wide, staring around her.
“Come on guys,” she said, “this isn’t about our petty rivalries. I called you here today to tell you about our one chance at greatness. Yesterday I overheard a conversation that could change our lives. We live in a world were there is crime and strife and misery, and most of it blamed unjustly on innocents. This evening, if you are willing, you can help me to grasp evil by the horns and defeat it once and for all. It starts with a single crime, but I tell you that if you are willing, we’ll make this world know our names, we’ll make an indelible mark upon this world, for the better. What say you? Shall we sit in here and argue about pointless things, or shall we get out there and damn well fight some crime!”
There was a long, resounding silence. Lydia clapped. Francis and Emma stared, all anger gone from their expressions.
“You can quote me on that,” Adelaide said after a while.
“Right,” Francis nodded, “well, I must say you’ve convinced me. We just might be able to do this. What do you think?”
He turned to Emma. She nodded.
“Fine, yeah, whatever,” she said, “we could do it, sure, provided I remain anonymous and he doesn’t get in my way.”
Adelaide’s look convinced Francis that it was not a good idea to respond to that particular jibe. She smiled.
“It’s settled then. I hope we can all agree, by the way, that I’m the leader. But if you have something to say, don’t be afraid to come forward. I won’t sit on top of any of your ideas.”
She went to lower herself back into the chair, only to discover that Lee had slipped into it when she had stood up.
“Well, this is embarrassing.”