HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 54

“And you did that?” Angela asked. “Couldn’t you get in trouble?”

“Well, I didn’t actually do anything illegal,” Leigh replied. “I just gave the message a signal boost. Made sure it was loud enough that it couldn’t be ignored.”

“So you’re, like, some kind of superhero, then?” Angela asked.

“Nah,” Leigh said. “I just like to level the playing field.”

“Sounds pretty heroic to me,” Angela said.

Leigh chuckled and said, “Maybe.”

A group of office workers filed into the café and approached the counter. The barista split himself into four identical doppelgangers and served each of the customers simultaneously.

“That’s a neat trick,” Leigh said, glancing over at the counter.

“Yeah,” Angela said.

In her pocket, her phone started ringing. It was Genesis.

“I should get this,” Angela said. “Excuse me a second.”

Leigh nodded. Angela stepped outside and answered the phone.

“Hey, what’s up?” Angela said.

“Not much,” Genesis said. “Just bored, thought I’d call and see if you were up for lunch.”

“I’m… actually sort of in the middle of something,” Angela said.

“Oh,” Genesis said. “Okay.”

Silence hung on the line. Angela stared through the window. She couldn’t just bail on Leigh, but she wanted to see Genesis, too.

Behind the counter, the barista collapsed back into a single body. He glanced out the window and smiled at Angela. She didn’t look away.

The boy’s life played out in her mind. Dividing his nights between a bachelor apartment downtown and his boyfriend’s house in the suburbs. Babysitting his sister a few nights a week. Hanging out with friends. Often all at the same time.

“Actually, I could eat,” Angela said.