After the best meal he could ever remember at home, Michael picked up the dirty plates and turned on the faucet. As the water came out, his mother rushed over from the table.
“You leave those,“ she said, turning off the faucet.
Michael and his mother walked to the couch in the living room that looked almost new. Rick was already sitting there, drinking water.
“They say it’s a tough program,” stated Rick openly. Michael was trying to keep the details light around his mother. He knew she would worry. “Fighting other Enhanced and the JTF agents.”
“It’s tough but not too bad,” Michael said trying to minimize the motherly worry. “They always have safety protocols in place so no one gets seriously hurt. The JTF guys usually get it the worst.”
That was true against someone like Justice or Lady Justice but when Michael fought the armored JTF agents, he usually got planted in the ground a few times before he had to surrender. He was lucky against Mother Nature and did not relish the idea of punching Harris armor. His Enhanced resistance only made the beatings last longer and the recovery quicker. Lieutenant Caldwell made sure Michael was fighting again as soon as he was ready.
“Were you in Crawfordville?” Rick asked. Michael notice his mom watching intently, waiting for the answer. Although most of the details were classified and some information was released, Michael was told to expect questions.
“Yeah, I was there,” he answered. “My recruit class helped Bravo company.” The Enhanced were ordered to credit Bravo company for Crawfordsville. It left Michael a bad taste, the recruits risked their lives just like Bravo company. Scimitar nearly lost his hands trying to save Team One.
Rick looked at Susan excitedly, oblivious to the worry on her face. “The EMTs at Riley said the JTF brought in a lot of kids, most in shock, some injured. The E-specs were there all night DNA-testing each one and were really happy by the number of positive hits.”
“Sounds dangerous, hon,” Susan said worriedly.
“Don’t worry, mom. I’ve actually made some friends so I’m well-protected by them. At least I have a paycheck now. Speaking of…”
Michael reached in his wallet and pulled a few bills and put them on the table.
“This is for the phone. I told you I would pay you back.”
“You didn’t have to sweetie,”said Susan beaming with pride, “but thanks. I can keep fixing up the apartment. I hope you like it.”
“It looks incredible. Keep it up.”
Michael noticed as Rick gave his mom a tender hug and kissed the side of her head. They were expecting to spend the day together, not entertaining him. He would make sure Net found everything he could on Rick but he seemed like a good guy and mom was a lot different now.
“Well, it’s getting late and I have to get back,” Michael lied. He knew his mother would want to spend time with him as much as possible, even ignoring Rick, if he stayed. He did not want to interrupt their time together. He knew the others were not far from here in Broad Ripple. If he hurried, he could catch them.
“You just got home, baby,” Susan complained. Michael knew she would be unhappy but Rick’s undivided attention is what she needed.
“I’ll come back when they give us another break. Promise.” Michael knew that would hold her for now.
Rick stood up and walked with Michael to the door.
“You know, you don’t have to leave. I’ll have another day off in 3 days.” Rick’s voice was low, Susan’s attention diverted by picking up the few glasses around the sofa.
“That obvious?” Michael laughed. “Listen, she needs you here right now more than me. She’s had a tough time and needs some good things in her life. The Enhanced life is a lot harder than most people understand. She doesn’t need my problems.”
“Not just because you could break every bone in my body, I promise that I will treat your mom right. She’s a good woman.”
“Thanks Rick.” Michael stuck his hand out and shook Ricks’s hand as the two men that came to an understanding.