“Trouble ahead,” Nightwave announced, pointing across the street at a convenience store’s parking lot.
A handful of smashed hoods in their twenty’s jumped a police patrol. They were chanting rhymes, rocking the car, kicking dents in its doors with their pristine white sneakers. Classic scene, Joaquin thought, adding it to the fourth position on his shit list, right after breaking and entering. In an unsuccessful attempt to drive off, the patrol car’s tires spun.
Quake sent a minor tremor their way, shaking the ground under the car with enough intensity to throw off half the hoodlums and get the others running like mad, shouting obscenities from afar. Half the block caught on the quake, car alarms lighting up the length of the street with alternating red blinking lights.
Joaquin turned away from the main street, taking a shortcut, his group still close behind. They arrived in front of a black back door, indicating no welcome or entry. Massey, Anne, and Andy were already there, trying to look less out of place than standing in some alley in the middle of the night.
“J, you never mentioned your guardian was such a good looking man,” Quake whispered into Joaquin’s ear.
“He’s on the straight and narrow fool. And he’s a cop.”
Quake pouted. “Shame. Double shame.”
Seeing them all surprised Joaquin. He reacquainted himself with their faces; long lost friends he thought he wouldn’t see again, wouldn’t need to see again. Massey’s five o’clock shadow had grown into a neatly trimmed beard riddled with greys and whites, changing his expression. His eyes were still warm and kind as they studied Joaquin. His slight grin subsided when Andy came into view. As always, Andy’s hair was messy, but his posture wasn’t that of the geeky fast-talker obsessing over supers in that dingy apartment anymore.
“You lot look like shit. Were you mauled by bears on the way here?” Anne didn’t leave a time slot for his reply. “Alright, let’s talk, or do you want to keep silently staring at each other?”
Joaquin snapped out of it, blinking the momentary relapse in memory.
“We talk inside,” he cocked his head toward the black door.
“Inside where?” Massey asked.
“A safe place,” Betty reassured. Joaquin noticed how she chose not to look Massey in the eye, like he’d know that she went berserk on a Prowler earlier.
Joaquin thundered his fist against the steel door.