Lina laughed in the face of the Organization’s leader, making him take a step backwards.
“That’s really impressive.” She grinned at him, because magic was real. “I mean it. How many people know?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Araceli, how did you raise such a rude child?”
“I don’t think she’s rude at all, Manfield. I do believe that she has a valid question. How many people do know?”
“Do you have any idea what she’s talking about, because I certainly do not.” He huffed a little bit, but Lina could feel the way his power was pushing at her, trying to get her to shut up and to submit, to agree to everything he wanted.
“Oh, let’s not play innocent. It’s just us here, Manfield. And I have known for a long time.” Lina’s mom raised her eyebrows in clear challenge.
Mr. Lee shifted. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. My power, as it is, is a simple skill of knowing who goes where and seeing connections.”
“That, Manfield, is just a skill, not your actual power. Why do you think Edward and I did what we did?” Lina’s mother took a step forward, getting into Mr. Lee’s personal space. He glared down at her – Lina’s mother was not all that tall, and Dylan’s father was – but didn’t back up, at least not yet.
“Because you’re hungry for power and there was no other way to get power but to take it from me, of course. The same reason that everyone else knows that you made your failed bid for power.”
Lina’s mother chuckled. “Failed. Yes. So, let’s see. Catalina is saving the world. Your son-“
“My son is my son and-“
“I didn’t think you wanted much to do with him, with his lack of a power,” Lina put in cheerfully, with a little mental apology to Dylan. “So why does it matter, now?”
“Because you cannot have him, you little upstart.” The growl was gone so quickly that Lina thought maybe she’d imagined it, and he was smiling at her again.
“You know, of course, that all parents and teenagers have their issues. Surely you’ve said things about your parents that you didn’t believe, or believed at the moment but understood later that it wasn’t true. Dylan and I have had our issues, of course. That’s just that, a parental issue, and he is still my son and I am still concerned about his well-being. As you pointed out,” he continued smoothly, way too smoothly, “there was an incident down there, and if he truly has bound his power to yours, he needs to recover. If you know my son, you know he’s not all that good at doing what he should.”
“I know your son,” she told him levelly, doing her best to ignore the power washing over him. “And I know he needs to recover after the two incidents – sorting out the mob riot first, of course.” She smiled brightly at him. You asshole. Why would you have done that? “So I told him he needed to go rest. I don’t know where he went, but if you want to come down to the grocery store with us, we could use someone with a car to get us all to the power plant.”
He did not sputter, but he did glare at her. “I’m not taking my son anywhere, not on your say-so.”
“Manfield, I thought your main goal in running the Organization was to be certain that all of us survived the prophesied catastrophe.” Lina’s mother looked blandly curious about the matter, her expression sweet. Lina thought that her mother might actually murder the man where he stood if she looked any sweeter.
“It is. What in that goal means listening to a teenager who can’t keep her pants on?”
Lina rolled her eyes at him. “Would you like proof that I am capable? Then I would suggest coming down to the power plant with us. And we will stop this thing. Because the alternative is that thousands or millions of people die.” She considered a map in her head, what was after the campground and its small mountain in a line from the power plant. The whole mass of the city was that way, and how far would the wave go? One city, another, all the suburbs in between.
“If you stayed here on the campground you could protect the Organization tidily,” he countered. “If indeed you can do any of this. I haven’t seen any power from you before now.”
Jackson interrupted with a line of Latin. He followed it with another and another, buttoning his pants and standing, stepping out of the tent to stand next to Lina — on her right hand side — as he wrapped up what sounded like something poetic and really important in Latin.
Lina understood a couple words out of it — femina, mundus, vitae, potentia. She raised her chin and stared at Dylan’s father as if she knew for certain that Jackson was backing her up with his long Latin poem.
“That’s the Ursinus translation.” Mr. Lee stared at Jackson in palpable anger. “Where did you get your hands on the Ursinus? We don’t have that in the Organization library.”
“Would you prefer the Eleutherios? It’s available in the library—”
“In the locked section!”
“As it turns out gave me access to the locked section five years ago. Remember that school paper?”
“Does your mother know you’re here?” Mr. Lee’s eyes narrowed. “Standing here with your clothes half-off with Edward Bosch’s daughter?”
“Of course she does.” Jackson’s shrug was fluid and easy. “My mother can read Greek and Latin better than I can still. Besides, Lina saved my life, and that debt is beyond any family rivalries. Oh, I offered the Eleutherios.” He began speaking in Greek.
“Enough, enough, you think that she fills the prophecy, I’ve got it.” Mr. Lee glowered. “That does not make her the leader of the Organization or of my son.”
“No. But saving your son’s life — twice — made her the leader of him. And that is a bond that is beyond any family—”
“-Rivalries, yes, yes, but I still lead the Organization.”
“Then,” Lina’s mother put in, “you know what you need to do.”Want more?