September 11, 2001
The phone started ringing at seven AM and would not stop. Mike rolled over and lifted the receiver. "H'llo?"
Micky sat up from bed and watched his temporary roommate's eyes grow huge. Holding the portable with one hand, Mike reached over and snapped on the satellite TV by the bed.
And Hell rolled into the room.
"Yes...." Mike whispered into the phone. "I'll open the window..." and he hung up, doing just that.
"Hank?" Micky asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the carnage. All he could think was Mel, I'm glad you're in Albany and not there....
"No," Mike said, watching the sky.
Less than a minute later, a man-sized fireball came into the bedroom. It landed and became an older man -- his once-ebony hair and beard now more grey than black. He turned tortured eyes to Mike. His mouth worked, but nothing came out.
Mike stepped forward and embraced him tightly. He let out a sob and threw his arms around Mike, burying his face in Mike's shoulder.
Micky finally got out of bed, and after some hesitation, squeezed the newcomer's shoulder once before going to wake Davy and call Peter. These two needed to be alone right now.
Personal hatred could wait just now. Family needed each other at this moment.
And despite everything, Jason Nesmith was family.
When Mike and Jason finally tore themselves away from the hell on the screen, they found Peter just coming into the Pad. He carried two full duffels and two empty ones. He threw the two empties to Davy. "Pack," he said curtly.
"Where are we going?" Jason asked.
Startled, Peter looked at him. "The four of us are going to New York, to help with S&R."
Jason shook his head. "The five of us. I'm still Mike's size, I'll share clothes."
Peter frowned at Mike, who nodded solemnly. "He's rocked," Mike said softly. "I said he could stay as long as he needed to."
"And I want to help," Jason said. "If nothing else, I could help in...." his voice caught. "...cremation..." Mike squeezed his shoulder.
"The Pentagon!" Davy suddenly screeched. All eyes swung back to the TV and the horrific news of fires and evacuations.
"That's it!" Micky ground out. He flung the French doors to the balcony open.
"Micky, what ---?" Mike gasped.
Micky whirled back to him. "How many more, huh? How many more people have to die before someone takes care of that madman?!"
Peter took a step forward. "Micky, it's not our place to ---"
"Peter, you know I respect you," Micky said. "And you know I respect your beleifs. But this is insane!"
"And your actions aren't?" Peter shot back. "God says vengeance belongs to Him--"
Micky nodded. "And I'm gonna carry it out for Him!" He shot into the air.
"I'll bring him back," Jason said, walking toward the balcony.
"How?" Peter asked.
The pyrokinetic met the telekinetic's eyes. "Trust me." And he shot after Micky.
Davy sighed. "Never thought we'd hear that man say those words."
Forty-five minutes later, Micky and Jason returned. Micky looked furious. "I'll get my PJs and stuff," he grumped as he glided up the stairs. "Call Mel and such...."
When the door closed behind Micky, Peter turned to Jason. "What did you do?"
"Not much," Jason grinned a bit. "Just congratulated him on becomin' as evil as me."
"Huh?" Davy asked articulately.
Mike laughed. "Taking vengeance into his own hands instead of justice... I get it."
"So did he," Jason said with a smile. "Wheeled right around in mid-air and flew straight back here. Didn't say word one the whole way."
After Micky made his phone calls, the five set out for New York. The television images didn't do the carnage justice. The sounds.... the smells.... they would never forget.
For the next few days, their waking hours were consumed with search, rescue, recover and cleanup. The sheer effort of nearly continuous power usage sent Peter to bed at the end of the day with migraine strength headaches, Davy frozen at 5'3" from sheer exhaustion, Micky's emotions all over the place, and Mike and Jason both unable to control their glowing.
Thursday morning, they arrived and were pulled aside by the chief on the scene. "We don't need any more casualties," he said bluntly. "You will not kill yourselves over this."
"Now wait --" Mike began, but the chief cut him off.
"No, son. You wait. You have done more than your best, the same as every man here. I know you're thinking you could do more -- we all are. But! You have gifts, and they're going to be needed all through this. We can't afford to lose you here! And with you pushin' yourselves past exhaustion, that's what's going to happen!"
"Sir," Peter began, "we're only doing what anyone---"
"You think I don't know that?" the chief asked gently but firmly. "You think I've not seen the rage when you move debris and find only death there? You think I've not seen the tears when all you can do is melt the steel over a body too shattered to move?"
Jason looked away, the tears burning his eyes again. He'd thought his agony had been private.
"You're gifted men," the chief finished. "But you're still human. Get in there. Help us. But from now on, I will be pulling you out the same as any one of my men when they're fatigued."
Then the man -- one more of a hero than any there with superpowers -- lay a hand on Peter's shoulder. "And call your wives tonight. That's an order."
Monday morning, Micky came out of the hotel room shower and dressed. Seeing Peter sitting on the windowsill, looking over at the efforts at Ground Zero, he moved to his side.
Peter turned and smiled at him briefly. "The others grabbed a quick breakfast and are already there."
"You waited for me?" Micky grinned.
"No." Peter turned back to the window. "Valerie laid something heavy on me last night. I've been in prayer all morning."
Micky sat on the other side of the sill. "What was it?"
"The memorial service."
"Yeah," Micky sighed. "That was wrenching. Beamed all over the world ---"
Micky blinked at him. "You just lost me, Pete."
Peter smiled briefly at him again. "That service was watched worldwide."
"Pastor Graham preached the Gospel to the whole world. In Luke, Christ says before the signs of the end begin in earnest, the Gospel will first be preached to the entire world. Micky -- that happened Friday."
A cold ribbon slid down Micky's spine. "Are you telling me Armageddon has begun?"
"I don't know, Mick." Peter met his eyes and held them. I don't know God's timing. I don't know if this is Armageddon or if that's still to come. But I know this: It's time to choose."
Peter nodded. "Like President Bush told every nation to choose between peace and terror, Christ asks every heart to choose between Heaven and Hell. Time's short, Micky. Shorter than ever."
They'd danced this dance before over the thirty-plus years they'd known each other. Parry and thrust, ending in a draw between Peter's Christianity and Micky's 'live-for-now' beliefs.
But this time there was a desperation behind Peter's words. There was a sense of urgency, almost a pleading. Micky licked his lips and opened his mouth to speak ---
So, of course, the phone rang.
With a sigh, Peter answered it. Once he'd talked to Valerie, assured her he was all right and everything was still stable, he hung up with words of love and turned back to Micky.
Micky was gone. The window was open and a note flapped under the weight that held it to the table. Peter TK'd it to his hand and read:
P. -- Have gone flying. Will be at Ground Zero soon. Have the room's Bible. Want to look up a few things. Have a lot to think about. Will let you know. -- M.
Peter moved to the window and looked into the sky, beautiful even marred by smoke. A single tear snaked down his cheek as he prayed.
Dear God, please be with us all right now. We need You so much....
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