Charlotte rested her head against the leather seat of Strike’s car. The location he had pin pointed was some miles outside of the opposite side of town on which the vigilante lived, and now they had been driving just over the speed limit for nearly thirty minutes.
“You know normally, I would complain about someone digging her fingernails into the leather of the seat, but really I think you need to relax,” Strike told her, glancing over from the driver’s seat. “It really won’t help your fighting if you’re tense.”
“I’m fine,” Atalanta retorted. “I just need to get there.”
“Look, I know I sound like I’m telling you what to do—”
“Probably because you are.”
“Yes, probably because I am, but you need to relax and you need to calm down. Things will work out better for all three of us if you do.” Atalanta huffed.
“I want to, but I can’t, not until I know she’s safe.” The air held quiet for a minute until Atalanta began to speak again. “This is my fault, if I hadn’t done all this and gone looking for that information, she never would have offered to hack for me.”
“Well, firstly, it’s an admirable thing, what you did. Going out and just saving someone like that. I mean, I started patrolling before Nocturn went missing, and I never had the courage to just run into a burning building and save someone,” Strike confessed glancing between her and the road. “Not to mention, in a situation where I was kidnapped, getting out would be first priority, so though it was a little stupid, the fact that you even got some records was also pretty cool. And I don’t know much about Natalie, but she seems like a pretty smart girl, and I don’t think you could have forced her to do anything.”
“That sounds great on paper, but it’s different when you’re friends with someone,” Atalanta told him. “I didn’t force her to do anything, but she still did it because she was my friend. She still did it for me, and if I hadn’t presented her with the opportunity.”
“Maestro would have come after you anyway,” Strike said. “He would have come after you, and you wouldn’t have had the chance to deny it. He would have exposed you.”
“And then what?” Atalanta asked. “Would it be so bad to be exposed?”
“Well, the press would be hell,” Strike pointed out, nodding to her with the side of his head, keeping his eyes on the road. “Speaking just as a rock star, the press is hell. As far as being someone with a super ability there would be a lot of people trying to control and convince you to do things, like the government or the anti-super groups. I’m scared of exposing my abilities to the world, and I’m not even a super.”
“So is that why you act like a jackass?” she inquired, smirking. He snorted.
“Am I really that much of an asshole?”
“Only with the mask on. Without it you’re just kind of a regular asshole.” Strike scoffed a little again. “Why do you hide the fact that you’re smart?”
“Why do you think I’m hiding the fact that I’m smart?” he asked.
“Well, there aren’t many guys who could successfully work the Iliad into a rock song,” she pointed out. “But if you, the cool, confidant, kiss a girl who’s dancing in front of the stage kind of guy are afraid of telling the world something, I bet it’s that you’re intelligent, or at least intelligent beyond what you want people to believe.”
“It’s not that I’m intelligent,” he said.
“It’s not!” he protested. “Okay, it’s just something I don’t like to talk about.” Another pause held in the car.
“You know not telling me is just going to make me wonder even worse things about what it is,” she told him.
“Well, maybe when we get to know each other…on Saturday.”
“You really think we’re going on that date, after all this?” Atalanta asked.
“Well, that would depend upon how this goes,” he said, slowing down as he pulled off to the curb. “We should probably go on foot from here,” Strike told her unbuckling his seat belt. Atalanta pushed down the buckle of hers, allowing it to fly around her into its socket. “Are you ready for this?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she said. “And hey, I’m bullet proof, so there’s nothing they can do to hurt me.”
“You know that for sure, yet?” Strike asked. “They could easily have something that could easily hurt you that you don’t know about.”
“Well, you know what they say, you won’t know until you try,” Atalanta retorted, opening up the car door. Strike grabbed her wrist.
“Don’t think like that. Even when you’re upset and wanting to rage. Just don’t think like that.”
“Okay,” she agreed softly, her face furrowed in confusion. He let go of her and exited out of his car door. They both walked around out to the front of the car, and stared forward down the street. “Plan of attack?”
“Well, I figure we’re going to need to creep in. He’s going to be expecting us,” Strike told her.
“Well, if he’s going to be expecting us, then maybe he’ll be expecting that we’ll try and sneak in,” she said. “And if he’s expecting that we’re going to walk in, then maybe we should walk right through the front door.” Atalanta began jogging down the street
“Do evil lairs have front doors?” Strike asking jogging after her.