Chapter 8


While waiting for Maxwell to finish some meeting or other, Surge fell asleep in the man's library. He'd gambled somewhat on which room to wait in, because there were any number of places Maxwell might go when he was free. He had finally decided on the library only because it had the most comfortable chairs and after spending the better part of the night incorporeal and becoming increasingly worried, he had quickly succumbed to the comfort and dozed off.

The sound of the door opening startled him awake. He jerked and fell out of the chair and onto the floor with a thump.

Maxwell's cultured laugh reached him where he'd fallen and he used the chair to climb to his feet.

"Comfortable?"

Surge scowled. "Not anymore."

Maxwell took the chair across from him and gestured for him to sit back down. "Is there a reason for this visit, or did you just miss my home that much?"

Surge perched on the edge of his seat, examining is friend's face. He didn't really want to be here, giving the news he had, and he had a distinct feeling that he wasn't going to like Maxwell's reaction to it. The whole situation was unpleasant for him from start to finish and part of him--the part that was still annoyed by Julian's insistence on being a part of his life--wanted to have nothing to do with any of it.

"I have some news," he said finally, proud of how neutral, how business-like he sounded.

Maxwell arched an eyebrow, the only sign of his curiosity, and waited for him to go on.

"Julian's missing."

Maxwell's expression was patently non-plussed. Looking at it, Surge found himself detesting the plastic, rehearsed expressions Maxwell constantly leveled at him. It was as though nothing about the man was genuine or spontaneous. It made it hard to want to be his friend.

"What does that have to do with me?"

Surge blinked at him and then frowned through his bangs. "He's your son."

"And he's also an idiot. Any trouble he's in is probably his own doing."

Surge was a little ashamed that, if he was honest, he would normally have agreed. "Not this time."

"Do you have any specific reason for thinking that?" Maxwell leaned forward a little. "Or has he just gotten to you more than you thought?"

Surge couldn't help the blush that spread across his face, but he kept his tone and expression under control. "He's been missing for five days now. He was abducted at a specific point where none of the city's surveillance cameras caught it. The operation was obviously planned and specific. It wasn't random."

"Then what are you doing about it?"

Under other circumstances, Surge might have been pleased with Maxwell's confidence in his abilities. In this case, his own inability to act chipped away at his pride every time it came up.

"I've investigated the camera outages, and they're all legitimately explained, at least in the city's records. That's all I could do on my own. I've handed it off to Rabbit," he added.

Maxwell shifted in his seat. "That's that then." He looked satisfied and nonchalant, and Surge couldn't imagine that he felt anything else.

"So...you're not going to do anything about it?" Surge was disappointed, but tried not to let it show.

"Rabbit's handling it, right?"

"I guess," Surge admitted. He rubbed one arm self-consciously. "He and I...we don't really...." He stopped there, unsure of how to explain the volatility in the air between the two of them, as though they existed on slightly different, opposed frequencies. He tried again. "He's not likely to let me know what's going on until he's either figured it out or he needs my help. And I don't think there's much I could do for him even if he wanted me to."

Maxwell smirked. "Yeah, Rabbit's an ass. But if anyone can do anything about it, he can." He shrugged and looked at the table between them as though expecting a laden tea tray to have appeared there by now.

A sudden wave of irritation rose in Surge. He'd known that it had been a long shot to approach Maxwell with this problem, and he had never intended to ask the man to use any of his admittedly extensive resources to help with the investigation, but he had expected at least a twinge of worry. Julian and his father didn't get along, sure, but they were still related. That meant something, right?

The easy dismissal on Maxwell's part made it quite clear that it didn't.

"So you're not going to do anything."

Maxwell looked up at the change in Surge's tone, but his expression didn't even twitch. "Of course not. I told you, this has nothing to do with me."

"You're not worried." It wasn't a question. Surge had no doubt about it at this point. "Not even a little."

"Nope." The certainty on Maxwell's face was hard to swallow. "Julian made his choice to become everything I loathe in a person and to cut ties with me. So good riddance."

There was nothing in his voice as he spoke: no hint of dissatisfaction, no anger, no regret, nothing, not even vindication. Julian might as well have been a stranger to the man sitting across from Surge.

"You..." Surge began, but he couldn't find the words to go on for a moment. His hands shook with unexpected anger. He stared at them, his bangs hiding his face from Maxwell's view. Finally, he spat out, "You're sick, you know that?"

He was stunned when Maxwell laughed. "I'm not the one who dresses up in an old coat and thinks he can save the city from itself."

Surge stared at him. Their eyes locked and he searched for something, anything, in the other man's gaze that would give away some hidden truth he was too proud to let on to. But there was nothing.

His mouth suddenly dry, Surge licked his lips and stood. "Well, I guess I'm done here then. I just wanted to let you know."

"Why don't you stay for tea? I'll have Ashe make some chai for you."

"Not right now. I have work to do." Surge shoved his hands in his pockets. "I'll...I'll see you later, I guess."

Maxwell tipped his head to the side and gave him a sardonic wave, his mouth quirked into a smirk. "Until then."

Surge gave him one last, searching look, and then left him alone.