Chapter 2: White lies can be deadly
Chapter 2 – White lies can be deadly
“You can train. You can lift that stupid bar until your head explodes, but you’ll never be as fast as I am.”
~ Barry Allen (The Flash)
Trevor Rossi had been the CEO of Rossi Corp for three months now and the people of the business world had started to actually take him seriously for once. He was as intimidating as his father had once been on the surface.
But Trevor wasn’t letting anyone see what was circling underneath.
The super Momentum had become a bigger deal in Kingdom City than he had ever wanted. He was becoming a household name. If Trevor found a way to make Momentum ‘disappear,’ it wouldn’t be as discrete as he would’ve hoped in the beginning of his search for his father’s killer. A month ago the scientific wing of Rossi Corp had officially confirmed that the red jacket in the security camera footage from the hospital from his dad’s corridor was the same Momentum was seen wearing in his first week as a superhero. There were a few small stains and tears that gave it away.
And for those three months since his father’s death, Trevor had been investigating away. Ian Thompson was the head of the scientific research branch now, which was basically just a cover name for the branch he had dedicated to supers. He had them tasked to find out everything about every super in Kingdom City, even the ones who weren’t playing dress up.
Back before his father’s untimely death, the department had only one lead to their name, the identities of the two most annoying supers in the city. White Knight and Black Knight weren’t exactly hard to figure out though. The public loved their little act and wouldn’t actively try and figure their identities out, even when the clues were so blatantly lined up in front of them
Black Knight was the son of Doctor Destruction. If you actually listened to the conversations that went on between the Knights during fights, it wasn’t that hard to guess. Doctor Destruction had business deals with Rossi Corp in the past, so Paul Rossi had easily found out his name before, Lex McPhail. Black Knight was Anakin McPhail.
(There was so much wrong with their names that it would’ve astounded Trevor if the family of villains had ever been anything but just that.)
White Knight they only found out a couple of months before Paul’s death. They had been going under the assumption that he was the son of Captain Fantastic, but had been getting nowhere with that assumption. It was only once they tried to connect the hero to his damsel, April Watson, in his real life that they were able to discover his secret. Brandon Charleston, a neighbor to April Watson who worked as a newspaper editor during the day.
It was really quite cliché.
In researching April Watson further, the information was bleak. Her parents seemed bland and boring, almost too much so. It was like they had no presence on the city’s radar at all. They didn’t seem to have real jobs and looked to be sitting on a lot more money than they should’ve owned.
The fact that the Watson family was so clean was what intrigued Trevor. He had a stinking suspicion that the family was somehow involved in the superhero world more than just by their daughter, the damsel, but Ian said that the lead was false.
And Ian had never lied to him.
But, since Trevor had control of his father’s assets, he’d been using them a lot more to the advantage of superhero research than his dad had been. His father had only ever scratched the surface of what they could do, only portraying curiosity on the subject. Buying the crates of PF-08-02 that eventually lead to his death must have been another shot in the dark to discover things about the supers.
And, Trevor had exceeded his father’s dealings by a longshot.
They had found out loads of information about the other heroes of the city and a few stragglers that chose to hide their powers. Wild Fire looked to be a kid from the rough side of town, Oakland, while Artic Frost and Silver Streak looked to be from Kingdom Hills. Ian had deduced this information about their living situations from their psychological profiles, assuring Trevor it was rock solid.
But, Ian had been yet unable to identify anything about Momentum. For reasons he couldn’t understand, Ian could find nothing on the hero. It was like he was off the grid.
If it had been anyone else, Trevor would accuse him of stalling the investigations for an agenda, but this was his boyfriend they were talking about here, not a corporate spy.
There was a knock at the door to Trevor’s office, distracting him from his wandering thoughts.
“If it’s anyone with the last name Carlton, you are not allowed to walk in this room unless you plan on suffering a fate worse than death.”
Ian eased opened the door, hands in the air. “I’m glad my last name is Thompson then.”
Trevor sighed in relief. He didn’t know if he could take another session of Lacey Carlton trying to lie straight to his face. It was exhausting and pointless.
“So am I.”
Ian grinned brightly, taking a seat on Trevor’s desk with composure and ease, so sure of himself. “So, we may have found a guy.”
Trevor did not enjoy Ian being so vague.
“You know, someone to hunt down Momentum. I still don’t know why want to hire someone else when you already have a big super villain on his trail.”
He grinned slyly. “What’s a little competition for the big prize? Plus, Artic Frost should’ve been able to catch the killer by now. She had him kidnapped all the way back two and a half months ago, but her incompetence allowed the scoundrel to escape. I have a feeling she may not want her prize as badly as she thought she did.”
“What did you offer her anyways?” Ian asked curiously.
Trevor shrugged. “I told her I’d give her Wild Fire’s identity.”
Ian’s eyes widened, “You know all too well that we don’t know Wild Fire’s identity. If I had to guess, I’d say we’re still months away.”
“Yeah, but Artic Frost didn’t know that.”
Ian whistled. “Woah, that’s a little harsh. What if she’d brought Momentum in earlier?”
There was another shrug. “She wouldn’t have been able to stop me from taking my prize. Besides, our updated security would far fine against a level 2 villain like Artic Frost.”
“So you’re double crossing her?” Ian asked, taking a more serious stature.
“If we have Wild Fire’s identity for sure when she finally brings Momentum in, I’ll share it. But, that’s still a big if. She’s being unproductive and it’s been months since I hired her. She needs a little more motivation.”
“And that motivation is the new guy you wanted me to find?”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, who is your candidate?”
Ian grinned, suddenly excited. “He’s this guys I know from DC. He will take low pay and most definitely will find Momentum before Artic Frost. Once you say the word, I can get Tyler-”
Trevor shook his head. “No, we need someone with no connections to Rossi Corp, to you.” Ian’s smile faded into a frown. “I already have someone else lined up as well.”
“But, I thought you wanted me to find someone. Wasn’t that the whole point of asking me?”
Ian was obviously confused. Why would Trevor ask him to find a guy that could track down Momentum if he wasn’t going to use the guy Ian found?
“I wanted to see if you could find someone not connected to your past.” Trevor defended. “Obviously, you couldn’t.” The hurt was evident in Ian’s face, so Trevor tried to take it back, “Of course, this is no insult to you. If the guy I found to work for me isn’t reliable, I’ll turn to whoever you found, but, for now, we go with my pick. I have his whole past on file, which is more than I can say for your friends back in DC.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Trevor sighed. “You know what it means. You haven’t told me really anything about your past before you started working here. All I’ve heard were vague statements about former friends and everything I read on your file. You were connected to the superhero world, and not in the way Rossi Corp is. Your family is full of superhero sympathizers. Right now, in this state, I feel like I can’t trust your pick.”
Ian was insulted, and rightfully so.
“Fine, you want to know more about my past? I was kidnapped by some people wanting my mother to change her policy on supers back in junior year. I was saved by Delinquent. When my school got attacked at the end of finals, I was stuck in the auditorium with everyone else while White Lightning, Kratos, and Delinquent fought off the villains, Andromeda and Inferno. During that fight, Andromeda kidnapped my sister. My sister was brought back to me weeks later, never the same. She left school early to take gap years in Africa with an outreach program after the incident.”
“No!” Trevor yelled out, frustrated. “That isn’t your past, your stories. Those are just facts read off of a piece of paper. My father knew all of that when he hired you, I knew all of that too. What I don’t know is what kind of person you were, what your allegiances were, who your friends were. Your past is shielded in smoke and no matter how close we get, you never clear it away. I’m tired of always guessing. I’m tired of wondering where your allegiances lie.”
Trevor was breathing heavily, and so was Ian. When Ian spoke, it was softly, refined. “My allegiances lie with you Trevor, and if you doubt that, I’m sorry. I don’t talk about my past in school because, quite frankly, I don’t want to remember it. My school years are when my sister was taken away from me and then when she got back she was still distant. She wasn’t the same after Andromeda kidnapped her. It’s why she went away to help little kids in Africa. She just couldn’t be the same. Those years are clouded in her loss. I never purposely sought out to hide my past from you, Trevor. I never meant to lose your trust.”
He hadn’t thought of it like that. Trevor had never had a sibling, the closest thing he had ever had to one was Xander Mendez, but they hadn’t spoken in months. They had drifted apart. Yes, it hurt a bit, but Trevor’s mind had been so consumed lately by his need for revenge that he hadn’t let himself fully feel the loss of a friend who was like a brother to confide in. Of course, Xander already had a best friend in school to talk to (who coincidentally hated Trevor and his company), so it wasn’t like he needed Trevor as much as Trevor needed him. If Trevor hadn’t been able to fill that hole with Ian, maybe he would be hurting even more. Maybe his father’s death would have actually consumed him whole by now.
“You didn’t,” Trevor responded, “lose my trust, I mean. There’s no one I trust more in the world than you.”
Ian looked down. “Yeah, but that’s still not enough for you to trust me on this.”
Trevor bit his lip, deciding the right words to say. “It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s that I want to be absolutely certain that the guy I hire to take down my father’s killer and bring him to be so he can face justice is someone I know will do what I need them to do. Someone who can be vetted by me. If my guy doesn’t pull through, I’ll be happy to see how yours fares.”
Ian nodded, understanding.
“I would never not trust you, Ian.” Trevor assured, taking his hand. “Some days I feel like you’re the only one I can trust.”
Ian hesitated, squeezing his hand back. “The feeling’s mutual.” He paused and then continued, seeming to deem his next words worthy. “When I feel ready to open up more about my past, I will. You can trust me on that. I’m just not ready yet.”
In the silence, they enjoyed each other’s company. It wasn’t awkward anymore. Ian rubbed his thumb over the top of Trevor’s hand. “So, who is this guy you found?”
Trevor smiled slyly. It was the kind of smile not uncommon to the stereotypical super villains you saw in TV shows and comic books. “He goes by Mischief. From what I discovered about him, he’s only in high school, at Kingdom Hills High. He’s not a super per se, but he has enough money to get enough artillery to take down any super.”
“Do you know his real name?”
Trevor nodded slightly, “Yeah, he’s no real threat to either of us though. From what I’ve told him of our information about Momentum, he believes the guy is younger than we thought, maybe even in school still, like him. Though he can take down a super, he can’t take down an empire.”
Ian twitched slightly, so slightly that Trevor didn’t notice his break in composure. He didn’t see Ian’s worry. Ian didn’t know Mischief’s loyalties, and he knew this guy would actually do his job right. If he was in the reigns, Momentum would be captured and brought to Trevor in no time.
And Ian knew that Momentum was innocent. He was the only reason Trevor hadn’t yet found the kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ian knew that the real perpetrator had been an agent of the villain X. For some reason he was active again, and his minions were the real reason Paul Rossi died in a hospital. But, Ian was not allowed to tell Trevor this information. It was alright to keep him occupied with trying to find Momentum as long as they knew Trevor couldn’t find Momentum anyways.
It was better than the alternative. Trevor couldn’t know the real reason X wanted to get rid of Paul Rossi. And, as long as that stood in effect, Ian would keep that secret from him.
Just another lie that he told to Trevor to keep him safe.