Chapter 4 - Changes
After the captured would be thieves are taken away, and Jesuit has a brief chat with Anvil, the team gathers around the newly matured Firework. Bouncer, Jesuit, Wildheart & Aurum begin to ask Firework questions, to try and figure out if it is actually him, when an AEGIS agent walks over to them. He tells them they’re trying to handle crowd control, but it’s difficult what with almost all the bystanders taking pictures or video.
“So much for secret identities,” Bouncer says. Jesuit & Bouncer are without their perception filter masks, while Wildheart has his and Firework is covered by his sparks. The agent tells them that they’re to report back to HQ, that Dr. Brennan is waiting for their report.
With their limited cover blown, Firework scoops them up into the air and flies them to AEGIS HQ. Upon landing, most of the soldiers ignore them, being used to the spectacle, but a few of the more observant ones doe a double take upon seeing Firework’s new form.
Meeting with Dr. Brennan, Firework gives the team a brief synopsis of what happened to him. Though it was less than a day for the rest of the world, Firework was actually gone for years, spending time in alternate dimensions! He explains that he could only stay in certain realities for a short time, before the structural integrity of the universe began to collapse, so he was constantly bouncing around. After getting through the initial shock, Dr. Brennan insisted that Firework undergo various tests to make sure sure that he was who he says he is.
As he was about to be led out, Firework runs into Micky Rodriguez, the AEGIS attendant who he went on a date with previously. Taken aback, but not for long, Micky asks Firework out again. He agrees to catching up later.
While the team is dismissed, Dr. Brennan asks to have a word with Bouncer. She informs him that the meeting of the liaisons will happen sooner than anticipated, that they’ll be flying in from all over the country the following week. They are each bringing two representatives of their teams, and that Bouncer should choose someone else to represent his team with him.
Getting back home, Bouncer gets a phone call from an old co-worker. It had been since before The Breaking occurred that they had talked, but the co-worker acted like it was just yesterday, being very familiar with Bouncer. The friend tells Bouncer that the bar he used to, well, bounce for, is having issues. That a paranormal and his gang has started to cause trouble, and though they don’t want to deal with the cops, they need help. Bouncer agrees to go the following evening to help out however he can.
Firework has a heart to heart with Aurum, who has decided to come back from Emerald City. Aurum talks about how hard it is for him to see Firework, and now it’s even harder since he looks so much like Sparks, his partner. Aurum says that even though he’s older, he’s not ready to jump into anything, and doesn’t think he would be okay with dating Firework anytime soon. With that, he heads back into his sanctum sanctorum in the basement.
After the awkward conversation, Firework decides he has to go face his family, who from their perspective he just saw last night, but from his, years ago. He asks Jesuit to accompany him, for support.
The reunion goes as expected, with Kyle’s mom fainting.
James & Samantha, Kyle’s parents, freak out over the fact that they’ve lost their teenage son, while their respective partners Danni & Darla, stay in the background, not sure what to say. Accusations fly of no respect, of selfishness, of lunacy. Firework tries to explain that he was a teenager when he made the jump, and that he had no idea how to get back, that he’d been struggling for years to come home. His father reprimands him, saying how much he and Danni went through in the Nevernever, and that this was just too much.
Jesuit observes with a keen eye, taking in everyone’s reactions and emotions. After gathering as much as he could, he jumps in, and helps calm everyone down. Using not his powers, but his wits and years of experience being a man of the cloth, he put things into perspective, allowing the family to not completely fall apart at the seams. Using understanding and empathy, he is able to convince Firework that his parents will need time to process it all, and to his parents, that Firework, though grown, is still their son, and needs their love and support just as much as he ever did.
After deciding that family counseling might be in order, he pulls James and Kyle aside. He tells James that from his observations, Danni is suffering from PTSD, most likely from their time spent in the Nevernever. He says that unless she gets treated, she will get worse, and might go down a dark path. James thanks Jesuit for everything, and tells him they’ll all get the help they need.
Back at the house, Wildheart locks himself in his room. After much contemplating and internal debating, he asks Johnny 5 to secure a line. He dials a number and after a few rings, a voice answers.
“Thank you for calling HOPE, Human Organization for Paranormal Equality. This is Grant, how may I help you?”
Wildheart takes a deep breath and says, “Hi. I’m a paranormal. I’d like to know how I can join HOPE.”