He glanced back at Casey and Jordan running toward him then turned back to Leila. Suddenly, five ironman suits landed in unison and moved to surround Leila. Jason dissipated the Gray Matter and flashed back–retrieving Casey and Jordan and securing them behind him. A helicopter flew over their location and Jason knew who it was as well as everybody else. Who else but the trillionaire himself, Thaddeus Macklemore, coming to his daughter’s rescue? Three minutes later the helicopter landed and he stepped out. The machine made a pathway for Leila, shielding her from Jason, so she could return to Thaddeus. When she was safely in the helicopter and it flew off, the suits formed a circle around Thaddeus and retained a distance of ten paces as he walked toward Jason and his friends.
“Hello Jason,” Thaddeus said, “or should I say. . . hello, brother.”
Jordan and Casey looked at both of them incredulously, paused for a moment, and then said, “What?!”
“Yes,” Thaddeus said. “We are brothers, Jason and I.” He started. “It’s a complicated story, too complicated to be explained in detail.”
“You’re no brother to me.” Jason glared, “we have no relation as far as I’m concerned.”
“Deny your heritage all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact,” Thaddeus said.
“Wait a minute,” Casey cut in, “if you two are brothers, wouldn’t that mean. . .”
“Leila’s not his daughter.” Jason cut her off. “She’s adopted, nothing more.”
“Really?” Casey asked.
“Yes,” Thaddeus said, “since Jason here abandoned his post, I had to find someone to fill it. I decided to adopt a daughter, nothing more.” Thaddeus continued. “However, Jason’s inheritance is still his, no matter what happens. Since he has ghost powers and is physically and spiritually immortal, the empire will be in his possession forever, as father intended.”
“That man was no father.” Jason clenched his fist. “A business tycoon, yeah, but a father? Fuck no!”
“The past is the past, Jason,” Thaddeus said. “You already killed him, or did you forget about that?”
“Just like he experimented on me and killed our little sister right in front of us? Or did you forget about that?”
The air lost its breath and the atmosphere lay still. Jordan and Casey were bewildered by what they’d just heard. The pain, hatred, and resentment in Jason’s heart ignited with the vengeance of a thousand suns. Thaddeus’s heart, however, was colder than the depths of Pluto on its darkest day. The contrast between the two was stark. The black flamed ghost and the ice-cold trillionaire.
“So,” Thaddeus said.
“So?” Jason replied. “You gonna get outta my sight or do I have to throw ya out?”
“You’re on my property,” Thaddeus replied in his icy tone, “or did you forget that?”
“Hm,” Jason replied as he grabbed Jordan and Casey’s shoulders and flew into the night.
“Should we pursue him, sir?” One of the suits asked.
“No,” Thaddeus said. “Despite his attitude and behavior, he’s still my little brother.” He added. “My ghost-powered and foolish little brother.”
Thaddeus turned and went back to his helicopter with Leila on it, still scared stiff from the night’s events. He didn’t say a word as they flew back to Macklemore Tower–headquarters to the trillion-dollar empire.
Jason and his friends, on the other hand, were flying at five hundred miles per hour. The stars seemed like endless streams of light and the moon remained as still as always, overseeing the creatures of the night and protecting the masters of the shadows. Seriousness, determination, and anger overtook Jason’s face and he was inadvertently choking Jordan while pulling him along through the air. They reached Jordan’s house and Jason phased him through the window and left for Casey’s without a word. When they got to Casey’s, Jason phased her through her window, and, just as he was about to turn, she grabbed his wrist.
“Look,” She started, “I don’t know what’s going on with you and what it is you’re not telling us but obviously you and Thaddeus being brothers is a helluva secret to keep from us.” She continued. “I know you’ll let us in when you’re ready and we’ll be here to back you when you are, but Jason,” She brought him closer, looked him in the eyes before delivering another wallop of a smack across his face, “We’re your friends goddamnit! We care about you.”
Jason looked just as serious as if she didn’t hit him at all, he pulled his wrist from her grip and started to fly away, “I got it. I won’t ghost you guys again.” He paused, “but, there are some things I gotta take care of. It’ll be quick.”
They were silent for a moment, looking each other in the eyes, “Come back.”
“Don’t I always?”
Jason flew into the night and Casey watched him until he disappeared from sight.
Like a ghost.
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