“How can we…” The dude with knife tattoo cleared his throat and raised his voice. “Why we talking to this fool? He loco!”
Joaquin shook his head. “You fools have powers and all you’re doing is sittin’ here playing counsel? That’s some lame shit! You should be out there.”
The woman looked up at him. “And what are we supposed to do ‘out there?’ Rob banks like the other people with these abilities? Kill someone? We’re no one! And we can barely contain our powers.”
“Contain them?” Joaquin spit back at her.
“What do you think this place is, Fight Club? We’re trying to learn how to control this thing, how to suppress it. We want normal lives,” the woman continued.
Joaquin aimed an impish smile at her. “But you don’t need to do that mama, not when you have me. I’ve seen what others like us can do and it ain’t some petty ass pick and run. We’ve led armies, fought nations. We can do some crazy shit! I’ve seen a guy age people jus by touchin’ em. I’ve seen this immortal chick take a handful of shells and walk on.”
The silence they returned to him made Joaquin wave his hand. They didn’t buy his crap. “What kind of powers do you fools have anyway? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. C’mon I ain’t biting. I’m jus’ like you earning it hard.”
The teenager was first to raise his hand though reluctantly.
“Put your hand down mijo, we’re not in a classroom.”
The boy cleared his throat. “I have x-ray vision but it’s kind of like a super sight. I can see through pretty much anything.”
The languid security guard had remained silent until that moment let out a sigh. He took a knee and thumped the ground with his fist lightly. Joaquin felt a high-pitched vibration in his ears. The ground beneath his feet vibrated and that vibration threatened to turn into a quake but the man removed his hand. “Can’t do full earthquakes but can sure knock you down on your ass and keep you there.”
The woman looked uncomfortable. “I’d rather tell and not show. My ‘ability’ is to create a vacuum of space around you. As in Cosmos. Crushing you and choking you with absolute zero if I lose my temper. It lasts short though, so…”
Joaquin brandished a wide white-toothed smile. “Imma turn you pussies into superheroes. You’ll be vigilantes tomorrow payin’ back Globe for Miles and all those of us he turned to enemies of the public.”
“You and what right, mano?”
Joaquin stabbed his thumb at his puffed out chest. “The right to live a life where I don’t need to hide and go to some lame ass support group, homie! I’m tired of hiding; I’m tired of being brought down. We are the future, we are tomorrow man. Look around ese the world ain’t forgiving you for no more mistakes. They got their pitchforks ready but they ain’t special. We are.” Joaquin could still hear Anne’s words careening in his head. They were supreme, they could do more. He wouldn’t abuse his power but he sure would use it. Even Massey saw it was impossible to stray from this life no matter how much it pained him to agree.
The man looked furious. He slipped a knife from his belt that glinted in the flames returning back the reflection of misshapen flames.
“Xavier, don’t…” the woman tried to say but he cut her off.
“I’m tired of listening to this clown. Look what happened to Miles when he tried to live peacefully with his power. He was all about nurturing it, harnessing it, showing it off and look what happened, where that led him? He killed people! And now he’ll rot in some tight ass secure prison for the rest of his life.”
“Miles made this group so we could help each other. He wouldn’t do anything to harm innocent people, you know that brother,” the guard joined in.
“Yeah and what about his nightmares? Those about him waking up to a world frozen by his own hands? That shit’s messed up!” Xavier insisted.
“But he didn’t kill anyone, Xavier, stop it!” The boy pleaded.
Joaquin fed on his fury adjusting himself for the impact, hardening his body. They were escalating, about to explode but he was good enough to take the heat.
“Instead of blaming Miles for tryin’ you should get out and avenge him. That’s what I would do. It’s crystal clear he was the smart guy.”
“I ain’t dying for nobody’s cause,” Xavier barked spitting saliva and fear at Joaquin’s face. He pointed the knife at his face. “And what makes you a special snowflake?”
“I’ll show you.” Joaquin clenched his hands into fists. “Come at me bruh.”
Ignoring his friends, Xavier slashed and Joaquin steeled himself to not move. The knife cut a vertical line on Joaquin’s stomach but Joaquin didn’t flinch. He grabbed the man by the wrist and twisted the knife away before head-butting Xavier, throwing him back. He touched his stomach where the knife had landed and showed off to the group. There was no gash, no blood seeping out.
“What… ability is that?” the boy asked.
“My skin’s impervious. I ain’t getting’ hurt no time soon.” He moved inside the limits of the circle proud and heavy in his steps. “You guys have potential. Why waste your powers when you can be heroes? I know ya’ll seen people like us getting a beat down. I know ya’ll afraid, but fuck fear, fuck everyone. Aren’t you ready to show off what we were given and… help save humanity by showin’ them we ain’t the bad guys? I ain’t lyin’ down in no grave, not yet.” Not until I make a difference, he thought to himself.
“Why do you think no one has gone out there to do the thing you talk about? Be a hero; a vigilante? It’s insane!” The guard wasted his words on Joaquin. A different tune was playing in his ears and he shook his head, the sweet, sweet smile of victory widening his grin.
“Simple minded people do simple minded things. I see the bigger picture. And I ain’t afraid. I ain’t broken.”
The glint in their eyes, even Xavier’s who was panting while the guard got him off the floor, was reassuring. It was the thing that made Joaquin burst with adrenaline. Today they were intrigued. Tomorrow they would follow him.
Next: Three Months Later