“I’m telling you, the guy’s lost it,” said Henry.
“He can’t lose it,” said Eugene. “It’s not like a superpower you can just take away from him.”
“Isn’t it?” asked Henry.
Dementra finished off her beer and bit off the top of the bottle and chewed on it. “I fail to understand the problem. Didn’t we save the city? Shouldn’t the citizens be happy?”
“Yes, they should be,” said Eugene. “Ungrateful bastards.”
“It’s complicated,” I said.
Most operations went smoothly. There might be some incidental property damage, some casualties. But we were good at what we did. But sometimes, things went wrong. The Gophor Invasion had been one of those times.
Clusterfuck wouldn’t have been too strong a word.
“It was only a couple of buildings and a few hundred people” said Henry. “I don’t see why everyone wants to make a big deal about it. Could’ve been a lot worse.”
“We need a publicist,” said Eugene.
“I thought Barry was our publicist.”
He was. Not in any official capacity, but the flying chin had a way of smoothing everything over. It wasn’t just because he was the most powerful of us (though he was) or the aura of good will and compassion (entirely genuine) he radiated. The guy had a way with cameras and a sound byte.
“No comment,” said Eugene with a snarl. “Can you believe that? No comment?”
“Lay off the poor guy,” I said. “He’s going through a hard time.”
“I told him marrying her wasn’t going to work,” said Henry, “but did he listen to the clairvoyant? No, of course not. Sometimes, I wonder why I even bother.”
I emptied my beer.
“Are you going to finish that?” asked Dementra.
“Knock yourself out.”
I handed her the bottle and went to the bar. Service was slow tonight. I tried not to read too much into it, but every citizen in the place was glaring at us. They knew, as we did, that we’d done the best we could, but enough people die, it makes other people question if we did enough. Hell, I kept playing it through my head, trying to figure out where I’d screwed up.
The operation had been a staggering success, considering what we’d been up against. It didn’t make it any easier, and having a city full of glares and bad press wasn’t helping anyone, us or the people.
I ordered a drink. The bartender didn’t say anything. Just gave me the drink and took my money.
“Pretty fucked up,” said someone invisibly from beside me.
“Barry?” I asked. “Is that you?”
“Since when can you turn invisible?”
“Since this morning.”
Barry already had more powers than any of us, and he stumbled across new ones now and then. It was a debate whether he always had them and didn’t know how to activate them or if they developed spontaneously.
“The others are mad at me,” he said.
“Not Dementra,” I replied.
“And what about you?”
“What about you, Barry?” I asked. “How are things with Brook?”
“Rough,” he said. “I should’ve listened to Henry.”
“Don’t tell him that.”
“I’ll buy a round. Maybe that’ll smooth things over.”
“No, Barry. You’ll sit right here with me. I’ll buy you a drink. And we’ll talk about it.”
“I don’t want to bother you with my problems.”
I smiled. “I’m a superhero. Helping people with their problems is what I do.”
“I’m not sure this is one you can help me with.”
“So I’ll listen then.”
I ordered a drink for him.
“I don’t think I can get drunk,” he said.
“And here I thought you could do anything,”
Barry laughed, materializing on the stool beside me as I struggled to catch the attention of a bartender very deliberately ignoring me.