Silence reigned in the campsite. Lina looked at her mother. She looked at Jackson. She looked back at Mr. Lee.
Finally, Mr. Lee huffed.
“I do,” he muttered. He turned to look at Lina straight on. “You are certain you stopped the first wave? And you are sure there will be more and you can stop them?”
“The power plant-” Jackson began. Lina caught his hand and squeezed it and he stopped.
“I am certain I stopped the first wave. I’m as sure as I can be that I can stop the subsequent waves with enough back-up. My shields will hold. I just need enough power to channel into them.”
“You were supposed to be a greybearded man,” Mr. Lee muttered. “Someone with decades of practice behind them.”
“Sorry to inconvenience you?” She raised her eyebrows at him. “This is me.”
“It is. And I don’t know who has decided to inconvenience me, Miss Bosch, but I imagine it’s more likely to be someone older and more manipulative than you. My son is still mine and I am still his father – but if he has acknowledged a life debt to you, I can -” he seemed to stumble. “I can do no less than to agree with his assessment and respect that.” His bow was so shallow that it was mostly just a twitch of his head. “But I still lead the Organization, and I would thank you to remember that.”
“I just found out the Organization was a thing like, a couple days ago. It’s yours, you lead it.” She smiled at him, not sure really what was going on at all, and gave her own nod of the head. “I’m going to go back to sleep. Maybe I’ll see you in a few hours.”
She stepped into the tent, waited for Jackson to follow her, and zipped it up. She sat there as Dylan and Ethan pulled the blanket off of themselves and waited as the very small-talk tense conversation between her mother and Dylan’s father moved away and out of earshot, and then waited a little longer just to be sure.
“I’m yours.” Dylan looked at her and both of his hands went up to his neck. “I’m yours. Really. You – you lied for me and you… and he… what?”
“What. The Hell.” Ethan looked, if anything, even more lost than Dylan. “What the hell just happened?”
Lina blinked at both of them. “I told Dylan’s dad you weren’t here and we told him that you had agreed to the life debt.” She was pretty sure they’d been listening to the same conversation she had. “I did what I said I would? I stood up for you, I mean, mostly just lied. And Jackson did a little bit of quoting in uh, Latin and Greek about – the prophecy that’s the reason we have an Organization? And I think your dad thinks I’m taking over the Organization. Which… no.”
“You stood up to Mister Lee.” Ethan stared at her. “You told him – you stood up to him and you laughed at him. Nobody does that. Nobody.”
“He’s… he’s just a guy. He’s a guy with a power, and that’s it, and I mean, he is charismatic and rich and kind of scary, but he’s got a power and he abuses the hell out of it, and that’s pretty creepy. But he’s…” Lina pulled her knees up to her chest. “What else was I gonna do, guys?”
“Apologize and turn us in? I mean… I mean that would make sense. Or tell him he could lead the mission to save the city, that would’ve saved some face, I guess.” Ethan shifted. “Or tell him you had the power but he’d inspired you or something…”
“He means kowtow,” Jackson translated. “Ethan, we’ve only known Lina like, two days, but has she done anything that seemed like kowtowing so far? Like the way she stopped you two with the pizza guy, or the way she threw people around in her shield-bubbles during that riot, or-“
“Yeah, but that’s, that’s us. That’s like, peers. That’s not anyone important. That’s literally just people her own age – okay, and a Senator, but just state senate. I mean, not Dylan’s dad.”
“That’s kind of me,” Lina admitted. “I don’t put up with stuff from anyone. State Senator or president. Well, okay, I’ve never met the president…”
“You realize… You realize you could be president some day?” Jackson was suddenly staring at her.
“Jackson, I’m a brown girl whose mother is an immigrant. I’d have to do a lot more than save the world. On the other hand, one of you could totally be president.” She found herself yawning. “Let’s get some more sleep before someone else decides they need to find one of you.”
She cuddled down between her – between them and fell quickly back asleep.Want more?