Kyle was sitting on the couch with Merv in his lap the Enchanted man next to him when the Children of Atlantis got back in.
The man had introduced himself as “Robert call me Bob” once Kyle had gotten him back on his feet and he’d quit rubbing at his eyes and whimpering. That was a strange name for someone who looked like a living shadow, but the spell that had changed him had probably been cast well after he was named preventing his parents from seizing the opportunity to name him Black Night Distroyinator.
Bob had a dishcloth over his eyes and his head laid back on the back of the couch. He said he didn’t feel so bad any more, but Kyle thought he was trying to seem tough. Kyle had been right about the enhanced senses. When his flash had gone off Bob had been blinded and in a lot of pain. Fortunately, his body was also better at recovering than a garden variety human so the blindness wasn’t permanent.
Merv was enjoying getting his back scratched, but he was also still holding the magic denial spell Kyle had wired into him before getting directly involved with the Children. Kyle had summoned the tiniest bit of magic. Just enough that he could get more quickly if he needed it.
So when the front door opened and the Children of Atlantis trooped in they were faced with an oddly relaxed and domestic scene. Still, they weren’t fooled. They knew what to expect because Kyle had sent the van back to the shelter empty except for the bag of supplies Alison had asked him to retrieve and Bob had made a call out of Kyle’s hearing about thirty minutes after that.
Knowing what had happened was one thing and seeing it was another. There was a range of reactions as each person saw their injured colleague. Fern and, oddly, Alexander, looked concerned. Murrow sized up the situation without much emotion then left the main room on some mission of his own. Lynn looked a little spacy, though that probably didn’t count as a “reaction”. Jessie caught Kyle’s eye and gave him a meaningful look that didn’t actually convey any useful information. Kyle tried to send information back to Jessie with his own eyebeams. He wasn’t ceratin if she got his “play along but be ready to run like a bat out of hell if this goes south” message or not. Not it mattered, what else would she do?
Alison was the most dramatic. Perhaps that was because she considered Bob to be her responsibility. She shot Kyle an angry glare and hurried across the room inserting herself between him and Bob on the couch.
“What’s going on here,” she demanded.
Kyle hesitated and then sighed and let himself slump a little. “I’m sorry, this is all my fault.”
Nothing about Alison’s glare softened. “What happened?”
“I wasn’t entirely honest with you. I originally came here as a mole. I was supposed to infiltrate your organization and check you out. The robbery at PSL, it was all fake. The guard was in on it. I’ve been working with a pair of IP bounty hunters to pass information back to the FBI. When you sent me back here today I checked in with them.” Kyle sighed heavily and stroked Merv’s back just a bit not having to fake his reluctance to relate the story. “I told them I didn’t know anything yet, there was no point in meeting right now, and I didn’t want them to come by the house. Unfortunately, they’re a couple of dicks, so they had me meet with them anyway and then they wanted to look around the house while you were all out.”
Kyle paused, basically just to get his breath and collect his thoughts, but Alison made a sharp annoyed gesture with her hand apparently thinking he was procrastinating. “And,” she prompted sharply.
“They found Bob’s room. I guess they thought it was some sort of stash of secrets and they decided to search it. I didn’t see how the fight started. I suppose they were surprised by him, and he was surprised by them… It was on before I could do anything about it, but I didn’t want to see anyone get hurt. I’m not even convinced you guys are doing anything wrong! I broke the fight up as quickly as I could.”
“So now what? You’ll pack your bags and go back to your masters, I suppose? File your final report?”
“We’re free to go then?” Kyle’s hand tightened a bit in Merv’s fur. He felt the words of his magic denial spell on the edge of his tongue. Moment of truth. If they made a single false move he’d flatten all the other magic in the room, toss his brightest flash, and make for the door. There were a lot of reasons to hope it wouldn’t go down like that, but his heart was hammering in his chest and his palms were sweaty. He couldn’t be sure the Children would see the same logic he did.
“Yes, because we aren’t the criminals you think we are. We’re trying to do something good here!” Alison bit out the last part angrily, and a strange twinge hit Kyle. He was oddly sorry he’d ticked her off.
“Alright, well are we free to stay?”
“You say you aren’t criminals, and I haven’t seen any crimes. You know my history; that’s not fake. If you’re on the level I’d like to know a little more about what you are doing.” He shrugged and hoped Jessie had been right that the Children of Atlantis were trying to recruit them, “It seems like maybe it’s something that needs done.”
There was a long silence after that with the Children shooting looks at one another and no one saying anything. Uncharacteristically, it was Lynn who spoke up first, “I have a spell. It’ll, like, make it impossible for him to lie.”
Kyle raised his hands defensively. “I’m not letting you magically mess with my brain.”
Lynn’s eyes opened wide and his eyebrows went up. He held his own hands up as well, which made Kyle feel like he should yell, Score! “It’s not like that,” Lynn explained. “It’s not mind magic. I learned the spell for a project back in school. It’s classic but it’s been reverse engineered. It senses stuff in your brain and then makes a light shine over your head based on how much you’re using stuff like your imagination. For a long time, no one knew how it worked, then people learned to do the same stuff with an MRI. Anyway, it’s safe.”
Alison gave Lynn and then Kyle a sharp look. “I think, if you want us to believe that you’ve had a change of heart, you need to let us ask you a few questions.”
“And if I don’t?”