Emil's whole job was fixing problems, if you were to boil it down. He wasn't so egotistical to think he was a end-all-be-all solution, obviously, but heroes were supposed to remedy situations, right? If a bank was being robbed, that was a problem he was obligated to solve. If someone was having a life-threatening dilemma, he fixed it. That's how it worked.
The issue started when the problems became less about saving people or getting the bad guys and more about actually talking to people.
He'd never been good at it. His school days had proved as much, seeing as he'd had little to no friends. People were...complicated. It was easy to predict where a car was being thrown and, in turn, easy to figure out how to stop it. It was more difficult to try and discern what someone was thinking. Wrapping his head around the logic of another person was far too tedious, making the fact his job didn't often require it a relief.
Except for now, where his problem was more or less about one guy.
The cycle went like so. Emil would fight a villain, said villain would get capture, the villain would go to court. The logical conclusion should've been that then, the villain ended up going to jail and all was right in the world, but that rarely came to fruition. Instead, some lawyer would step in and by the end of it, the villain would be loose again. The cycle repeated like so. Apply, rinse, repeat. And at first, Emil had sort of ignored it. He didn't really pay attention to the court proceedings. His job was done by that point, right? Except he started running into the same villains over and over a few too many times and came to the startling realization that hey, wait, they weren't actually staying in jail.
He'd waffled a bit over it, trying to decide whether or not he should do something. Was it even his place to? But then he went back to the fact that his job was to fix problems and, seeing as this was certainly a problem, it was his job to fix this. So, he'd found a little time, found where the lawyer resided, gotten one of those little wine gift basket things, and made his way over.
It couldn't go wrong, really. People loved gifts, right? And it wasn't as if people liked causing problems. Hell, he couldn't imagine enjoying letting villains go free, so surely just talking about it could clear the issue right up. He hadn't exactly talked about this plan with anyone else, instead having one of those moments where he came up with a plan and instantly acted it out. It hadn't worked out perfectly for him before, but it was a new day. He figured there was a first for everything. Besides, he dealt with powerful, violent people on a day to day basis. What was one normal lawyer to that?
That was how he found himself at the door of one Atticus Amherst, knocking at the door politely. When it opened, he put on a bright smile, trying to be as friendly as possible. "Hi! Sorry to bother you, but you're Mr. Amherst, correct?" He already knew the answer, but he was pretty sure it was polite to check. That's what other people had done when coming up to him despite it being obvious who he was.
If the other had come to his workplace, Atticus wouldn’t have been so surprised. Whoever this stranger was had found his personal address and came inside. Or into the apartment building. It was too far.
Given he didn’t know the other, Atticus assumed the worst. “If you’re here for legal advice you… You uh, can’t. You can’t be here.” He looked exasperated at the stranger’s presence. “How did you get my address?” Despite being comfortable with his occupation, Atticus didn’t exactly hand his address out to others. It wouldn’t be sensible. People could go to his office in person if they really wanted to get advice from him. Or talk to him. He wasn’t friends with this person. Working with people like he did, it was better to keep them at a distance. He didn’t need some killer knowing where he lived. Paranoia had gotten the best of him after a year of work, he had kept a knife in his home, he had half a mind to grab it right then and there.
“Who even are you?” Another question to the blond who was standing in the hallway. Atticus could only stare, brown eyes narrowing to scrutinize the other’s appearance. His hands curled into fists, a subconscious act of self defense. The other had a slight height advantage, but in reality that didn’t matter. Either someone was capable of winning a fight or they weren’t. For the few inches the stranger had on Atticus, he seemed like too much of a pushover. The redhead was confident in his own capabilities. “It’s not normal to find someone’s house and just–“ Atticus stammered for a moment, trying to collect himself.
He liked to think he wasn’t a coward. But strangers on one’s nonexistent doorstep rarely was what people wanted to see. He starred, he couldn’t help it. “Anyway.”
Right. Collect yourself.
“Don’t fucking do shit like this. Y’know it’s–“ Ew, don’t tell him it’s illegal. That makes it all weird. Like you’re hyperfixated on the law. He had been at some point, but Atticus didn’t want to just hand that information out to strangers. So he kicked his lips and tried to quickly save what he had said. “–It’s not a normal thing.” Nice recovery, Atticus would have rolled his eyes at himself if he wasn’t looking right at someone else. What if the stranger was super sensitive? Last thing the redhead needed was some idiot sobbing in front of him.
Carefully, he stepped back, just slightly. Placing his hand on the doorknob, Atticus began to close the door. Maybe the other would just go away? If he got the hint.
Clearly, he had miscalculated how great an idea this was.
It wasn't as if Emil had stalked the man. At least, he didn't think he had. The definition of stalking was hazy, now that he thought about it; technically, he had found out someone's address without asking them, but that was the sort of thing present in phone books, right? It wasn't as if he'd followed him home or something, and there was certainly no ill intent involved. That begged the question of whether or not ill intent was needed for stalking, and if it wasn't...well, alright. Maybe he'd accidentally participated in stalking. Absolutely unintentional, but his mother had told him many times that the outcome of an action far outweighed the intent behind it.
Except, he couldn't exactly give up on this, because he was trying to fix a problem, as was his job. If he didn't fix the problem, it would snowball into more problems, and then he'd have people annoyed with him all across the board. He really couldn't take that. God only knew the people that handled his image would be pissed at him. They already were practically all the time, not that he understood it; they mentioned he had the potential to be a 'local sweetheart', with the caveat of 'if you kept your mouth shut'. Which he'd tried, but hadn't had much luck with it. Apparently, he just wasn't trying hard enough. If it got back to them he'd messed up like this...well, he wouldn't hear the end of it. So, either he annoyed them or he annoyed this man.
Both options bothered him.
"Wait!" He said quickly, instinctively going for the door, but jolting back when he realized that it probably wasn't a good idea. People didn't like stuff like that. He didn't like having people in his space, either. That was something he hadn't thought of when coming up with this grand plan. "I didn't-- Alright. I did mean to be here. I just--" He cut himself off, not having factored in this sort of failure on his part. "Sorry. I'm sorry? I mean, I can...give you my address. If it makes you feel better?" That would make them even or something, right? "I'm Emil. Sorry. I just wanted to quickly ask you about something, but I'm now realizing this is- this is weird. Right?" It was worded as a question because, in all honesty, it was. He clearly didn't know how to handle this situation, floundering as he tried to find a magic statement to patch up the interaction. It clearly wasn't working out for him, though.
He just wasn't sure what to say. He still needed to talk to Atticus, because if he didn't then his failure would be reported back within moments somehow. Except, Atticus was shutting the door on him, which meant they weren't going to talk, which meant he was in for it. Great.
In a moment of desperation, he said in a rather meek manner "If you tell me your rates, I can pay you. Or something."
Atticus narrowed his eyes as the other informed him he didn't mean to be here. People didn't eactly show up at someone's house knowing their last name and asking him about... Well, he had really just asked to confirm that Atticus was himself, Atticus. Or he's looking for Andrew. You're not the only Amherst on the planet. Atticus had decided that the other man wasn't looking for his brother though. He didn't really look the type, unless he was desperate for some 'hero-cop' to look after him for some reason. Tilting his head upwards just slightly, he shook his head. "I don't think you know someone's name and show up to their apartment on accident." Every part of it was suspicious. He wanted to slam the door in the other's face, but that would bring more attention to him. His neighbors were already wary of him.
Atticus was't poor, he wasn't trying to hide in his apartment. He was fully capable of living alone. But having neighbors so close made him less paranoid. Unless they were all going to turn against him, they all had a general shared interest. Being safe. Hearing the other exclaim for Atticus to "Wait!" Made the redhead flinch. His grip tightened on the doorknob, realizing he needed to slam the door on the other's face. The other reaching forward was all he needed. The other's hand passing over the threshold of his 'doorstep' that didn't exist. It was just a line where his door was. "Trespassing is illegal." The words were blunt. Technically, technically, the other had trespassed on Atticus' property. How had the other thought this was smart?
"I don't want your address."
Was this some horrific, creepy way of asking him out? His eyes were wide and full of unrest for just a moment. "Don't give it to me, I don't want it. You shouldn't be here, whoever you are." Atticus didn't like the disadvantage of not knowing who the other was, and the other clearly knowing who he was.
There the name was. Atticus blinked, trying to think. Emil wasn't a familiar name, he didn't care about Emil. He wanted Emil to get away from him. He stared as the other said he had to ask him something. "What?" This wasn't normal. This was the furthest thing from normal. "I literally have-" He groaned. "Are you here for legal advice?" Now this was a new attempt. Even the most extreme villains didn't exactly come riht to his house. Given, usually they were in prison for some time. But even the ones who weren't i prison, it was unheard of. "This isn't a normal way to get legal advice." Legal advice isn't free either. Not good legal advice anyway.
Though the mention of money made him hesitate.
Atticus wasn't money obsessed. But he didn't really know what he was gaining from this all. "Did someone send you here?" Maybe the other was some socially inept representative for a villain. It had happened before. Though again, never at his apartment. He hesitated for a moment. What are your rates? Like he was some prostitute or something. It all felt like he was on some shitty prank show. "I..." His eyes flickered from the other's face to the empty hallway behind him. He wanted to lean forward, look and be sure that the way was clear. "You can ask whatever for like five minutes but-" Atticus looked back at Emil. "-I'm not doing this ever again. Don't come to my fucking apartment, Emil." His words oozed with venom as he looked at the other. Hesitantly, he stepped aside, which would allow the other right into his apartment.
His home was devoid of any personal affects. He didn't like the attention that was drawn to him. People would just psycho-analyze his bedroom. His apartment as a whole. He had his pet snake- Calliope- but she wasn't a decoration. She was family! He looked back at the other. The candles there were atop almost every surface, legal books, and three lighters beside a half empty pack of cigarettes were really the only 'mess' he had in his house.
Technically, he'd gotten what he wanted. Beyond that? He was now positive this was a mistake.
The apartment...was. That was the most he could say about it. Far different than where he lived, certainly. His space was covered in things to make it comfortable, because if it wasn't comfortable he'd feel weird. It wasn't right to have your own space feel strange. Sure, maybe it was a bit of a mess, but honestly if things were organized he'd feel like he didn't actually live there. Atticus' apartment felt hostile, as did the man himself, so his unease only grew.
He tried to not look like a deer in the headlights when asked what he wanted. Right. He wanted something. What he wanted was to leave and then never return, which seemed also what Atticus wanted, but he now needed to follow through. It was his job. That's what he kept reminding himself as he stood there, trying to touch as few things as possible. Limiting his presence in the space seemed the right thing to do.
"...Right. Okay. Thank you! I will absolutely never be doing this ever again." He confirmed quite honestly, eyes set on the floor. It was easier when he had his glasses on, certainly; he could act like he was doing the whole 'eye contact' thing when he wasn't actually. Glasses off? Well, it became obvious he was staring everywhere but someone's eyes. "I'm--" He couldn't say hero, could he? God, that would've been bad "I'm with the hero program." He was. It wasn't a lie. He hated lying, so that was ideal. "And, uh, I heard you're generally the person villains go to for legal advice and stuff. So I was just- I was curious about why?" That seemed like a good start. Non-combative. Atticus couldn't be mad if he was trying to be civil, right?
Actually, maybe he could. Emil didn't know. It felt like he was walking a mine field with no map or anything to confirm where he shouldn't step. Oh, and he'd already stepped on like 5 mines and was barely holding on as-is. Navigating the interaction was quickly becoming hazardous at best.
The silence that followed the other shuffling indoors was comforting to Atticus. Clearly he had the upper hand. That was all he needed right now. He wanted to feel like he was in control of this unexpected situation. He hated feeling like the world had suddenly decided to betray him. Frightening, really. He hadn't said anything as the other seemed to figure out where he was from. Emil was from the hero program. At the mention of it, the redhead stiffened and glanced at the other. "You are?" His tone definitely gave away how unimpressed he was. He might know Andrew then. Did Andrew give him my address? Atticus wanted to ask, but it would lead to more questions if he was wrong with his suspiscions. The other's questions weren't what he expected.
Was this really happening?
"Don't you think they deserve a fair trial? Listen, public defenders are shit. At least the ones here are. They don't care, they don't try." He looked at the other. "Why? Do you not think they deserve a fair chance?" He echoed the same question. It was a weak attempt at overwhelming the other so he left. If Emil just made himself sound like a prick, Atticus would 'win' and the other would leave. That was all he could really ask for right now. He looked at the other, scanning his face again. "It's fine if that's what you think. Really, I'm not one to judge. People from the hero program always think like that anyway." He hesitated for a moment. "Anyway. They have families as well." Some of them. Definitely not all. "You're just leaving-" Atticus grit his teeth.
Explaining all o this made him feel like he was being a dick. Was Emil that stupid? "Why does it matter to you?" Atticus shook his head. "You work with the hero program. You probably make money whenever one of your heroes puts someone in jail for something. So what they get out? The law decided whatever sentence facing them was unjust. So your heroes can go and fight them again." Everyone wins. We all get paid.
Yes, many buildings had been destroyed in recent months. The fights were getting more and more intense. But Atticus didn't know what else to say. The other didn't seem like he fully understood what he was even asking. Something about... About why Atticus did his job. "My job is to be a defense attorney. And like you said, people come to me for legal advice. Clearly I'm good at it." He looked at the other. "Maybe the heroes in the hero program should get better at their own job." It's hard to send someone to jail for destruction of property when the heroes do it to the same extent. Property damage and violent crimes. Those had been the recent cases Atticus was assigned, and each one seemed like there was enough for him to win. Emil... He just didn't get it.
If Emil had warning bells, they'd be going off. Even without them, he was increasingly aware that he'd made a 'social blunder' of sorts. Actually, he'd probably made quite a few, more than he realized. Backtracking wasn't really a possibility; there were a few reasons for that, but most pertinent was that he wasn't truly positive on what he'd done wrong. Well, he knew some of the things he'd done wrong. Clearly showing up out of no where was up there, and he respected that. Beyond that, though? No, he was lost.
Atticus also made sense, in a way. It wasn't like Emil was against justice or something. Again, his job was to stop problems, right? Injustice was a problem. If people were being wrongly imprisoned, that would be an issue, surely. Except these people weren't wrongly imprisoned. They were supposed to be in jail for good reason. That was the purpose of the heroes fighting them in the first place.
Plus, he was a little indignant at the idea that he cared about money. Frankly, that was the least of his concerns. It wasn't as if he became a hero for a paycheck. Arguably, it hadn't really been his choice at all- if you had a good power, you used it for the right thing, that's what they'd told him when they'd talked to him about signing up for the program. But he would've signed up anyway. If he didn't, what use would he be? He was supposed to help people.
So, he couldn't help but frown at the accusation, shifting where he stood. It wasn't an angry sort of frown- he didn't do angry, not easily -but he was a little offended.
"Of course they deserve a fair trial." That was given. He wasn't well-versed in trials, but he knew that much. "And I'm not-- It's not about money. I wouldn't be here if I was interested in that. I'm just asking--" He cut himself off, looking to the side at the wall, clearly frustrated with himself. For someone who rambled, putting words together when it mattered wasn't as easy. "There are...problems. Obviously. With the heroes." That stung to say, but his record of property damage was less than stellar. "But they don't mean to--"
He stopped himself again, though this time from a realization brought on by his own words. It wasn't uncommon for him to come to conclusions mid-conversation and this was no different. No, he never intended to destroy a building, but also, intent was less important than aftermath. He'd just applied that to maybe-accidentally stalking Atticus, yet had completely overlooked other applications of it.
"...Huh." His frown turned more contemplative as he ran a hand through his hair, looking at the ceiling. "Well, okay. That does make sense." Even though he'd admit to that, when he ended up looking back to Atticus, eyes focused at a spot right over his shoulder instead of his face, he continued on to a new thought. "But that doesn't exactly answer my question about why you do it. Why villains in particular? Aren't there other people in the area that need that sort of help as well?"
Usually Atticus grew tired of having to over compensate for the brain cells others around him seemed to lack. Emil seemed to lack four times what others did. Atticus couldn't even remember a time recently when he had been this frustrated speaking with someone. The other again asking why he specifically did it made him sigh. He could just give a painfully base level answer, right?
"Because that is what I went to school for."
He gave the other a tired look. I went to school to be a defense attorney for people who have committed violent crimes, property damage, and something else but it never really gets brought to me. What he hadn't gone to school for was putting up with someone like Emil coming to his home and talking to him about his job. "What am I supposed to do? Go back to law school to learn how to do a different job?" Atticus looked annoyed, and he knew he did. He needed to get Emil right out of his apartment. Other people need help as well?
"I've worked cases that aren't villains but," he sighed. "People who come to me, and ask me to take their case are people I work with. It's not my fault that it's 'villains' who come to me." He looked at the other. "Everyone breaks fucking buildings, but no one wants to press charges against a hero. They'll try to do everything to find out who someone is." Villains were normal people when it boiled down to it all. Though others would disagree, Atticus respected them to an extent. People would fight tooth and nail to unmask them, and charge them in cases. But sometimes they couldn't prove it, or find the right person. They find someone with similar powers to a well known villain and arrest them, saying it's the same.
"I don't think you get it." Atticus shook his head. "And that's fine! Not everyone is smart enough to understand the bigger picture." He knew how condescending it sounded, it was meant to. Someone who was bigger, stronger- probably- had shown up in front of him and given him a line of puzzling questioning. "Can I ask you to stop doing your job?" He looked right at Emil. "The hero program is responsible for at last fifty five percent of the property damage in the country." He looked at the other. "Could you all just stop breaking buildings? Stop saving people?" He could hear the sarcasm in his own voice. "This shit can be applied to literally any fucking job. You're coming here to ask me to switch what I do?"
Atticus hadn't realized how worked up he had gotten over this until he stopped talking. His hands were shaking just slightly, his words had grown blunter. "It's fine." He tried to reassure himself more than Emil. "It's fine." He repeated. "I don't care. I'm not going to stop doing my fucking job. And you're not going to stop doing yours! So whoever sent you here- whatever stupid fucking co-worker thought this was a good idea- just tell them it didn't work. That I'm not quitting or whatever." He glared at the other.
This wasn't working. Emil was actually pretty sure this was what 'arguing with a brick wall' was, even if he didn't clearly get what the hell that meant. Weighing his options, he could stick around and point out that he'd been invited in to talk and ask his question, yet Atticus seemed actively against actually answering in a way that was informative. Or, well, that wasn't the right way to put it. It was informative, but it was also off. He wasn't sure how to describe it. What was clear was that his only option that involved staying would be to continue the same line of questioning and cause even more issues and likely not get the result he wanted.
Which meant the most comfortable option was to give up, go home, and get the verbal beat down that was surely going to come from his handlers. It didn't sound like it should be the most comfortable option, but it was.
So, that was what he ended up doing, before he ended up getting more frustrated and crying. That wasn't a very composed thing to do, not to mention it was embarrassing. Really, the last thing he needed. "Alright." He wasn't sure what else to say. Actually, wait, he did. "Sorry for bothering you. Thank you for your time." There. He could at least be polite. It seemed like the right thing to do. With that finished, he quick walked his way out of the apartment, mentally hitting himself over the head for trying any of that in the first place.
And he did, in fact, get berated for his choice. Fairly so. Training ended up being a bit worse- nothing he couldn't handle, but more tiring all the same. By the end of it, he'd promised himself that he would maybe check in with people before going off on his own.
Maybe. (Probably not).
He wasn't expecting to see Atticus again. It wasn't as if he planned to sit in on any court cases; that seemed a bit far even to him. No, Emil figured that part of his career was now over. Except, the next week, he found himself asked to come in and talk about a case. Something like that, at least.
Well, not him-him, actually. They didn't ask Emil to come in, they asked his superhero identity to come in, which was far different. He had to go to the office in his suit and sunglasses, which felt weird. He didn't tend to frequent buildings in full garb. It got him plenty of looks and it took all the effort in his body not to shrink under the attention of so many people. Getting to the private area he'd been instructed to go to felt like a blessing. He seemed to be there first before the lawyer was, and sitting down in the chair was relieved to have a few moments to try and get some of his composure back. He was a little worried about speaking to Atticus again, but it wasn't as if he'd be recognized, right? So it was fine. Atticus didn't like Emil-the-normal-person. Other people didn't either. But other people liked Nova-the-Hero, so maybe Atticus would be the same. He just had to put his best foot forward.
Emil's abrupt escape had Atticus reeling. He hadn't gotten to finish telling the other off. Atticus had invited the blond into his home, let him waste his time, and Emil had the nerve to just up and leave. Atticus had been hoping he would get the chance to tell them to never come back, but Emil excused himself all too quickly. The fact that things hadn't gone exactly to his mental plan had put the redhead in a particular mood. He had moped about the apartment for the next couple of minutes before getting over it. You'll never see him again. Besides, he was scared of you. You were the one in the right. People shouldn't just follow someone to their home. It's really not natural...
That reassurance was all the redhead needed. He had to return to his work anyway! So Atticus needed to get over himself.
The rest of the night was spent pouring over documents he hadn't expected to have brought home with him. It was a miracle he had, though Atticus tried not to use phrasing like that. The fact that he had a case tomorrow meant that he had to be prepared. The appearance of Emil had only thrown him off of his train of thought. Atticus had to get back into the same headspace, or he feared the worst outcome was possible.
By the next day the worry had subsided, but the memory of Emil had not. He had to think for just a moment and the image of the tall blond standing in front of his house with some stupid basket was emblazoned back into his mind. Atticus grit his teeth as he set a folder down on the desk in front of him. Don't think about that idiot. You have far more important things to do. Atticus had to keep reminding himself of this. He had lost cases before, but he refused to lose one like this. Sometimes, he knew the person he was defending was guilty. He understood that. This time, he knew that they were not. Amelia Donohue was just someone who unfortunately had powers that were very similar to the well known villain 'Blackout', and a similar figure. That was what she claimed anyway, and Atticus believed it. Because he had seen her use her powers and... Well, he didn't want to be mean. His powers were absolutely useless to anyone outside of his profession. But being able to turn off a single light in a room was nowhere near as remarkable as causing the whole city to have no power for a week because of their powers, and then also downing power lines. That and Atticus had once met the villain, and they... Didn't seem like they were Amelia.
Regardless, Amelia was being held accountable for the crimes of causing the city wide blackout, and the damage of government property. So Atticus had built the case around her as best he could. That was why he had asked any heroes who had fought Blackout must be questioned. And shockingly, a few had complied. Walking into the building to see a hero was already there wasn't what he had hoped for though. It was so early... The redhead peered cautiously at the other. He didn't even really know who the hero was. "Morning," he said absently. He didn't really care if they were there, he had figured that he wouldn't really speak until the questioning. Which was being done in individual rooms because there were multiple lawyers on the case and he was pretty sure that they didn't want press crowding into the courthouse to see a plethora of heroes.
So soon enough, it was Atticus, his client, a judge, and the prosecutor and their client in a room with two other members of court staff, and a couple of heroes. The first of which was the only one to be on time. He had been early actually. Atticus looked at the hero. Nova. That was what he had been told. He started simple. "Have you ever met Amelia Donohue before?" Atticus fied his gaze on the hero. The room felt a little smaller. It really was just a smaller court room, no benches for an audience.
"Have you fought the villain Blackout in the past year?" He knew this alone would help. As Amelia was not in the state for parts of the year. So he could press for times, and so on. He just had to have someone slip up.
Emil had been a little worried about what he was going to be asked.
Not because he was going to lie or anything. He was pretty sure his agents would prefer him lying or being as neutral as possible, but he remained adamant that lying wasn't the sort of things heroes did, so he couldn't either. So, he intended to be as honest as helpful as possible in hopes things would be settled quickly and, further, justly. It was the right thing to do, after all.
The reason he was nervous about questions was because his memory was not great, to say the least. There was concern that a question would be asked that he should know the answer to but somehow didn't. It wasn't like he knew the exact times he'd been doing things, you know? It wasn't the sort of thing he paid attention to. Things happened when they happened. If they went and asked any specific questions about where he was on certain dates, he wasn't positive he could answer right away.
Luckily, though, the questions he was asked were simple enough. He'd been tempted to open his mouth and greet Atticus, but had held himself back when he realized that would indeed be an odd thing to do. Atticus didn't know it was him. Plus, even if he did, Emil was getting the feeling he wouldn't be so amicable to the idea anyway.
Best to stick to just answering the questions.
"No, I've never met an Amelia Donohue before." He was pretty sure he'd never seen the woman in his life. Not that he was good with faces or names, but if she were significant, he was sure he'd remember. "But I have fought Blackout in the past year, yea." If they asked precisely when, he'd probably have to take a moment, but he was sure it'd been in the last few months at least. He wondered if he should say more- the line of questioning probably was trying to figure out if Amelia was Blackout, and Emil was certain that they were completely different heights. In the end, he stuck to answering the questions out of worry that commentary would get him in trouble for whatever reason.
Luckily, the hero seemed to comply. He had known he would. This would have shown that nosy idiot who had come to his house that he didn't just do whatever a villain asked. His job was multi-faceted! That was good enough. That was all he wanted and needed. Why did he care? What some dickhead stranger thought? Atticus grit his teeth for a moment, noticing that he was getting too in his head. He couldn't afford to do such a thing right now. He exhaled slowly, looking back at the hero whose face was obscured. That made things harder, but he knew that it didn't matter to the courts. Heroes and even villains were allowed to maintain their anonymity. Though reading facial expressions would really help in a scenario like this.
Everything was going to plan at least.
Atticus was trying to be positive, something that was uncharacteristic for the redheaded man. "When about do you think you last fought Blackout?" Atticus stared. He had to stare. There was a pause, allowing the hero to speak. He didn't care if it was an immediate response. If anything it would help Atticus. If it lined up with Amelia's absence... Then that was good. That would be good.
Amelia was nice. He had spoken with her more than a few times. Besides her powers, the few petty crimes she had committed- stealing a few things from a convenience store at age nineteen, getting into a bar fight maybe six years ago- but those things were old. They had no relevance to Blackout. He frowned a little bit. "What would you stay Blackout looks like? If you've eer gotten a proper look at them. Are there any defining traits? Height, weight, any of that?"
Someone being nice of course didn't mean they were innocent, Atticus wasn't a dumbass. Still! He felt he had made a good enough case already. The other case he was working... He didn't want to think about it right now, knowing exactly how things were going to go. It would be harder to prove another villain innocent than show that Amelia wasn't Blackout. Someone was just depserate it seemed.
The question about when he last fought Blackout wasn't great. Exactly the sort of question he'd been worried about, actually. If they wanted a day, they certainly weren't going to get one. Getting the right month would even be pushing it. He wasn't going to even bother trying to get the right day, because there would be a non-zero chance he'd accidentally lie, which was the opposite of what he wanted to do. He wanted to be as truthful as possible.
It wasn't just because he felt bad for annoying Atticus, to be clear. That might've factored into it a little, but it wasn't the whole reason. He'd probably have to explain that later to his handlers, if he ended up saying something they didn't like. He was already constructing an explanation in his mind for if that situation came to pass, certain that one of his actions or statements would end badly in some way. He wasn't positive what he could do wrong, but they tended to find something.
The next question was, of course, easier. He tried to not look relieved by it, glad his shaded goggles hid a bit of his face. He'd planned his response to this one in advance, so he wouldn't have to worry about looking foolish while searching for his words. Thank god the event was small and not televised; if it was, he'd certainly be far more nervous and all over the place than he was currently.
"Uh...I probably fought Blackout around 2 months ago." That seemed about right. It was around the time he'd done some weird press conference thing, and that had been on his calendar around 2 months ago. Hopefully, they didn't try to narrow it down further. He went on to the question that he knew to answer a little better than the last. "Blackout is at least a good few inches shorter than your client, though. I can't say much else considering she wears a suit all the time, but I know that."
Atticus had everything that Amelia had done as far as eight months back. It wasn't the full year, but it was good enough. Every receipt, credit card statement, tracked locations from her phone. The prosecution had argued it was too easy to fake those things. But a hero saying that he had fought Blackout- who was supposedly Amelia- when Atticus' client was in Argentina visiting her aunt who had moved there for god knows what reason... Well, that was damning. It was perfect. His eyes fell on the hero again. It seemed he was telling the truth. He could easily move onto the next hero, though it would be wasteful.
So he pushed on.
"You said she was shorter than my client?" He looked back at the hero. Good, that's good. That was just another thing that cleared Amelia. This would show the people that she wasn't... She wasn't Blackout. So easy. Atticus hesitated, finding his words catching in his throat for a moment. THis always happened. The questioning just went so smoothly. That was what he hadn't expected. It wasn't as if he thought h would lose the case, it was just rare heroes were so compliant.
Atticus knew they looked down on him. For being so open to defending the villains or people they assumed were villains. Like Amelia! "So it's safe to say that you wouldn't think my client is Blackout?" He paused for a moment, waiting for a response. He wasn't going to bring up Amelia's record. Given the fact that heroes jumped at any one criminal charge. He didn't need the hero to bail on him. Not now. Not when he was agreeing.
"Yea, Blackout is shorter for certain." Emil confirmed, sparing a glance Amelia's way just to make sure he was correct. Which, he was. He could just tell. He had to look down in order to look at Blackout's face, but would have to do so less with Amelia. Therefore, different height. He was pretty sure you couldn't make yourself shorter without some serious altercations, so ergo, they were different people. Made sense to him.
The other heroes in the room certainly knew it as well, so he wasn't sure why there was a trial in the first place. It was already obvious to him Amelia was not the villain and it wasn't like he was exactly the king of observation. Maybe things just worked differently than he thought. Maybe the trial was just a formality. He couldn't really know for certain, seeing as this was the first one he'd ever been brought into.
When asked to confirm that he did, in fact, not think Blackout and Amelia were the same person, he nodded. Then, he realized he probably should answer out loud the records. He was pretty sure that was a thing they did, at least. "I mean, they don't look the same at all, so I don't think there's really any chance they are the same." If they were, he'd eat his hat...or something. He was pretty sure that was the right usage of that saying.
Either way, he was relaxed in the knowledge that he both hadn't been asked questions he couldn't answer and seemed to be helping. Those had been his only two worries for the trial, after all; since nothing had gone wrong with them, he didn't need to worry. Besides, the fact Atticus was confirming with them that they didn't think Amelia and Blackout were the same seemed to indicate things were wrapping up. There was little time for things to go wrong, which was even more of a relief.
This couldn't really be happening. Atticus felt enthralled. There were no more questions to ask, which meant it was time for the next witness. The trial seemed to drag on after. Two of the heroes said that Blackout was a similar height to Amelia, but their face was always obscured. One had said they weren't even sure if Blackout was a woman or not. Atticus could only stare, in shock. How were they even accusing the woman when they didn't even know if Blackout was a woman? He was overwhelmed, but content. The result of the trial was fast approaching.
"Amelia Donohue is innocent."
Atticus felt like he was dreaming when the judge had spoken. The woman seemed insanely relieved, shaking his hand. Atticus smiled as he realized it was ovver, finally. He looked back at the others, seeing the one hero who had... Definitely done more than the others. He found himself carefully approaching the hero, once the crowd had thinned, leaving them both in the room. The other wasn't like the other heroes.
He had noticed it before. Heroes all had variations of stories they cycled through. No one really questioned it though. Atticus had caught the glances cast toward the man. "I-" He didn't know why he was struggling to speak to a hero. Atticus didn't respect heroes. Now, it wasn't going to change. But he could appreciate this. "I appreciate your testimony, and for taking part in the questioning." That was probably enough. He looked at the other for a moment, aware of eyes on them. This wasn't normal, he just felt like he had to thank them for some reason. "I don't think most heroes would havve told the truth like you did." The words were blunt as Atticus turned, going to walk out of the room.
Sort of. It wasn't really a thank-you, not in the traditional sense, but Emil was going to take it as one anyway. After all, that's what a thank-you was, right? Appreciation? And that was a win for him. It proved what his theory had been: everyone liked Nova more than they liked Emil. It wasn't exactly as sad of a realization as it sounded; if anything, it was a happy solution to his problems. A good portion of the time he spent as hero, so that meant that a good portion of the time, Atticus would like him. Truly as simple as that.
So, the original plan going out of the trial was that any time he interacted with Atticus would be in-costume. Not that he planned to interact in general; theoretically, it wasn't like he had good reason. He wouldn't be convincing Atticus of anything now, not after how badly their first meeting went. There was no reason to talk to the man. There was a bit of him that wanted to prove he wasn't as bad as the lawyer thought- he hated disappointing people -but he was trying to tamp that down.
Unfortunately, both the vow to not talk to Atticus and to be in costume if he did have to interact were found to be unreasonable goals as soon as two days later. Emil had been out grocery shopping after forgetting to do so for about 3 days in a row, having to fill up his fridge again so he didn't have to order take out. He was expecting little to no excitement, especially approaching a crosswalk like he was. Civilian life wasn't made to be full of twists and turns, right?
Except he ended up noticing Atticus at the same area. First thought was to go over and say hello, but his second was that it would be a horrible idea, considering everything. The second thought persevered for a moment or so until it was overcome by a third thought: a panicked uh-oh moment, spurred by him catching sight of a car speeding through the intersection, heading right towards Atticus.
From there, he ended up acting without much thought, hustling past a few people to snag Atticus by the shoulder and pulling him back onto the sidewalk, barely managing to get him out of the way before the car went by, honking it's horn. He stared after it warily, only noticing after a second that his hand was still on Atticus' shoulder. Right. This was exactly not what he was supposed to be doing.
"Sorry." He said immediately, taking his hand back and dusting it off on his t-shirt, looking honestly apologetic. There was a beat of silence before he added "I'm not- This was coincidence. I'm not stalking you, I swear.", followed by another "Sorry."
Long ago, Atticus had decided if he was going to die in an embarrassing way, he would simply die. Choking on some food in a restaurant? He'd be spending his final moments in a bathroom stall pressed against the door to avoid someone coming in to see him asphyxiate. So although he hadn't seen the car coming, when he realized he decided he would just commit to getting hit by a car. Local lawyer struck dead in head on collision. Plus, all the papers in his arms were too important to drop. If he lost them and they were picked up by passers by, then he wouldn't be sued for it.
What he hadn't expected was some jackass to come and save him.
Feeling a hand on his shoulder jerking him back, Atticus had stumbled, cursing under his breath. His gaze shifted, following the arm that was connected to the hand and- there was no fucking way this was happening. His eyes narrowed, immediately placing the face as the beloathed Emil. "What?" He stiffened, tensing up when he realized Emil was still touching him. Until he wasn't. The redhead groaned, looking at the papers that had scattered themselves about. At least his power was useful here. He glanced towards the papers, watching them all stack themselves neatly together, so Atticus could bend over and grab them. "You're... You're not," he relented. "Thanks."
The word came out so begrudgingly. Atticus felt like he owed the other now. Emil had spared him from a humiliating demise. "I guess I wasn't paying as much attention as I thought." I was paying attention. It was just too late. There was a pause, Atticus had to weigh the pros and cons of this situation. He owed Emil now. So he had to figure out how to say it.
"If you need-" Atticus almost choked on the words, feeling embarrassment flood his senses. "If you need anything, let me know. I really appreciate the whole-" Again a pause. He wasn't stammering over his words, but rather forcing them out at all. "Saving me thing." The words were muttered through grit teeth. He was already headed to his office. If the other suddenly decided he needed impromptu legal advice, Atticus supposed he could share some.
Emil beamed at being thanked. That was the second time, but arguably the better time. This wasn't when he was in costume, which meant he'd maybe just fixed his original mistake. If that were the case, it would be a relief; he knew that his civilian self wasn't exactly well-liked, yet it still bothered him that he'd managed to mess up so badly. It made him entertain the idea of going 'oh, yea, I also helped you with that court case!', but ultimately decided that would be a bad idea.
His slight smile fell at the offer of assistance in exchange for saving the lawyer. It was a nice offer, but it felt wrong to take such a thing for keeping someone from getting hit by a car. After all, that was just something people should do, right? If there was an opportunity to help someone, then you helped someone. He viewed it in such a black-and-white way that the idea of getting rewarded didn't really make sense to him. Further, he really didn't want a reward; it made him feel as if he'd be viewed as having helped just to get something out of it.
"No." Wait, that sounded way to strong. He rushed to fix it. "I mean, you don't need to owe me or anything. I'm just happy to help." It was the truth, and he hoped he got that across with the small smile he gave afterwards. "If anything, I'm repaying you for the other day, right? So no big deal!"
It felt like a big deal, but really only to him and only because he saw this as the perfect opportunity for atonement. It didn't have to be a big deal to Atticus. "Do you need any help carrying things? I, uh, assume you're fine other than the car thing. But I figured I'd ask." It was absolutely not because he wanted to take the opportunity to try and fix their first interaction further. No, no. Clearly not, even though there was nothing to really help carry, seeing as Atticus clearly had all the papers handled.
No. I do owe you. People like Emil just didn't get it. Likely, Emil had been an only child who never really had to apologize for anything he did, so he just assumed this was all some happy accident. Emil was definitely one of those people who was so nice to everyone until they were told that they didn't have to be nice. It was all a shitty mask Atticus was waiting to see slip. He wanted it to slip, so he could relish in being the one who had seen through the elaborate facade. Emil would certainly throw some kind of baby-ish fit over a minor inconvenience- just as Atticus would, but he refused to entertain that thought in the moment- like people having to skip over him in a meeting because he was just so insignificant.
Or maybe that was just Atticus. Who would always get upset in private.
There was always the potential for the other man to have the complete opposite reaction. Utter understanding in a situation, to the point where he was easily manipulated by his peers. Atticus considered that outcome for just a moment. He personally could not imagine being that pathetic. If he had ever done something like that, Atticus would not let himself live any longer. No! The moment he became some pathetic loser who let others dictate his reality was the day he died.
Atticus had to clamp his teeth down into his tongue to stop a snide comment from escaping his lips. Instead he waited- just a moment to think- before opening his mouth. You're so fucking stupid, it's like you don't understand things. Atticus had to do something, so he didn't walk around for the rest of the week feeling like he owed Emil for keeping him alive. His face had gotten warm at the outright refusal- as if he was incapable- of his offer. Emil thought Atticus was incompetent. First the taller of the pair wanted him to quit his job and now this. It was offensive, a slap in the face. Atticus could feel his chest tighten for a moment. He plastered the same sickeningly plastic grin he used when meeting clients for the first time. Though interacting with heinous criminals was much more pleasant than speaking to cheery Emil.
"No," he said. "I don't need your help carrying things. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, I've got it all under control." His tongue pressed itsel to the roof of his mouth as he thought for a moment. "You know," he began. "I was thinking about what you said the other day." Silence fell again for a moment. "I'm not going to quit my job. I literally can't." You owe him. He saved your ass, this is the most you can do without him being fucking annoying about it.
"My office is right across the street. If you're not busy, we can talk about what you'd brought up. I'm not meeting any clients this afternoon. This is actually an appropriate place to have conversations like that." Atticus couldn't help but get a slight jab in at the blonde. It was inevitable. "It's up to you- of course- I just thought it would be good. I don't know if you've got a genuine interest in the law, or if you're just some freak who wants to suck heroes off for being good. But, I wouldn't mind having someone to talk to if you've got anymore questions about how the whole: 'defending villains' thing works."
A once in a lifetime opportunity. To speak to the Atticus Amherst- the city's loathed defense attorney- on legal topics and potentially debate the ethics of the glorified legal system. Atticus was fully aware of all the system's flaws, but it was his job. He wasn't killing people at least!
As he began to walk away, he glanced back at Emil. "You coming?" He asked, before heading back across the street to where his office was located.
Okay. Cool. Emil was officially in his own personal hell.
Helping Atticus had been nice. Proving that he wasn't some weirdo stalker that wanted to be awful to him or something? That was nice. It was an experience he'd never thought he'd have outside of his costume. He'd assumed that the only positive interactions they would have would be when Emil was being a witness on a case and trying to be helpful. So, while he wasn't glad, per say, that Atticus had almost been hit by a car, he could see the silver lining gleaming around the situation.
He could not, however, see any silver lining about going back to Atticus' office and being able to ask questions about the whole law ordeal.
He wholy didn't want to. Law was now a touchy subject, one he didn't think he could navigate well enough to avoid stepping on toes and ruining the whole thing all over again. He especially couldn't do that when underprepared. He was the sort of person who liked to plan out important conversations; the type that wrote out questions and answers to interviews before going to them to make sure he didn't mess up. He didn't do well with being put on a spot. There was already tension between the two of them. God only knew he would accidentally end up making it worse.
Yet, he couldn't just decline, because that also seemed to be a misstep. He'd tried, certainly. Told Atticus outright that he didn't need to be repaid. That had been the wrong answer to a test he hadn't known he was taking. He was left floundering all over again, unsure what to do with himself, but unable to back out without making it worse.
So, he followed. Unfortunately. Very unfortunately, because he could feel himself getting more anxious the further they got, and it reached its peak outside Atticus' office. He was silent the entire time, not knowing what to say or if he should say anything at all. He still had his groceries in hand, in fact. God, that was probably a bad thing. He should've mentioned them and said he needed to put the cold items away. Now he was going to have melted green beans and an awful conversation.
This was worse than fighting villains. Like, officially.
"...Thank you for the opportunity." He voiced awkwardly, waiting for Atticus to enter the office first, figuring that maybe he should say that even if he wasn't all that grateful for the opportunity at all. Atticus was...mean. Maybe to everyone, but at the very least to Emil, and while Emil was sure it was because of something he personally did, he just didn't want to make it worse. Extending this conversation? Would absolutely make it worse. Yet, there he was, saying thank you for it. He was already scrambling for possible questions in his head, trying to figure out what would work to get him out of anything deeper than surface level chatter.
Emil reminded Atticus of his classmate from law school. Some annoying girl who always pushed Atticus to talk to her because he was so smart. She just wanted to talk. Atticus had never been interested in doing anything with the girl. Emil had shown up to his house, and Atticus had scared him off. Now, Emil was back. Having saved him from dying in a car accident. He silently wished the car had struck him dead.
The two had entered his usual office, organized meticulously. The redhead hummed softly to himself as he set the box of documents on his desk, waving his hand. This caused them all to fly into place, and for once, Atticus looked relaxed. A content sigh left his lips, knowing at least he was going to have everything in the correct place. That was what Atticus liked. Even if his power was useless to others, it helped him. Atticus was the only one to benefit from his ability. At least directly. His clients benefitied indirectly from his abilities. The man looked back at the blonde across from him, exhaling slowly.
"Oh, uh, yeah," he said. The awkwardness had transferred from Emil to Atticus. "I just... Your questions, they were kinda dumb. But I guess it's like," he hesitated. You're shooting yourself in the fucking foot. Idiot. "You have the right idea, I guess. The city just needs to hire better public defenders," he said lightly. "Heroes and villains- I'd rather not call them that but I know you don't care- have money. And the right to anonymity. So when a normal person, with less money than some hero is going to court, they ask the public for help." He winced. "Public defenders are..." What was the polite way to epxlain the people he hated? "Special." Atticus shook his head.
That's it. Right? A part of him wanted to force Emil out. ANother part of him wanted to beg the other to stay. The admission was humiliating to the redhead, but he hadn't spoken it. "LIke my brother's a cop," he looked like he hated saying it. Any mention of Andrew made his skin crawl. "When they fuck up, they have a company kawyer, that they hire. But he's a fucking idiot- the attorney- and they have another one to protect them or whatever. They're both shit. The company doesn't pay them enough, and they know they won't lose their job being the police force's last resort." Whether it was pressing charges against someone who hurt the officers orsomething else. Atticus thought it was stupid, being so concerned. They were shitty anyway, and they had more intense powers.
The silence that ensued reminded Atticus that he was in fact in his office, talking to someone who probably didn't even understand what he was saying. The shorter man had gotten so worked up, that his face had gotten a bit red and his face had begun to get warmer. "I- I'm sorry," the apology stunned him, but he knew it was the appropriate time. Even Atticus wasn't that tone deaf. "I didn't mean to get so stuck on... All that." He cleared his throat, having to look away. There he went again, rambling about how stupid Andrew and his fucking job was. "If you have any other questions," he offered an obviously forced smile.
"No, it's fine." Emil said quickly, trying to get rid of the notion that he was upset about Atticus talking. He actually wasn't sure why he would be, but it seemed Atticus assumed such. Honestly, having the other talk on his own was better than having to initiate something himself. Otherwise, Emil would ask something stupid, and then things would go downhill, and then they'd be at square one all over again.
It was why, after that, he fell silent, standing there with his groceries in his arms and eyes cast to the side, face beginning to redden in embarrassment. The direction of the conversation had been tossed to him like a grenade, and he wasn't aware how to diffuse grenades, you know? It was- metaphorically speaking -something he just had to handle and hope it didn't go off. Of course, when he got flustered like he was, it ended up in him running his mouth. It was no surprise that after his few moments of silence, that was exactly what he did next.
"I'm sorry, actually." He blurted out, then seemed unhappy he had, launching into the next part of his statement "I mean- okay, I just, I didn't prepare? At all. For this. And I don't feel like you owe me but you think you owe me and-- Okay, I kind of considered this even ground, yea? Because I was weird and out-of-line the first time we met and I really didn't make up for that, so then I figured this was me making up for it, but now we're in your office and I--"
He stopped himself, taking a deep breath, then letting it out, laughing awkwardly and averting his eyes even more "Sorry. Tangent." Apology number 2. Things were going great. "I...The questions I had, originally, were uh-- They were stupid. Yea. Honestly, most of the reason I came to you was because of my--" He cut himself off, rethinking saying 'my agents', which would've been too revealing. "My coworkers. I really don't know much about what you do. It's not my department? And I think-" God, what had his therapist called it? "-it's kind of an echo chamber, the place I work for. Though, you probably know that. But I took everything at face value. So, I'm...not really sure what to ask because of that, sort of."
He fell silent again, mouth a thin line and cheery demeanor falling away to one of prevalent anxiety, seeping into his mannerisms and how tense he was. That was a lot of words, and he wasn't sure any of them were good. He was probably talking too much, actually, and Atticus (who already hated him) was going to despise him for that. Not only that, he was trapped in this office space for god knew how long, because he wasn't sure what the special words were to get himself to leave. Did he say he was leaving? Would Atticus tell him when to leave? Was there some sort of magic clue that people picked up on that made it obvious when to bow out? He wasn't certain.
"...You have a lot of problems with police and heroes." He decided on, fidgeting absentmindedly with the grocery bag he was basically hugging to his chest. "And the legal system, it seems? Sorry if I'm reading that wrong. You seemed to be kind of getting into that before and apologized for it, which its-- I don't mind, actually. Honestly, if you could talk more about that, I'd be interested in hearing about it." He paused, then tacked on "Elaborating on your problems with heroes and police and the legal system, I mean. I guess it really isn't a question but, ah, its the best I have at the moment? And it's not-- I know it isn't along the lines of what I was asking originally, but I'd really rather just hear your side of things, seeing as I really don't have much of a basis with anything law-wise."
He seemed to be outwardly cringing at himself, unable to mask such. Well, maybe at this point, Atticus would kick him out. It would feel awful, but it would be an invitation to end the awkward interaction and go home and get into bed, never to return.
The way his teeth dug into his tongue stung, but nothing was as miserable as the feeling of having to pretend he understood the questions presented to him. Some form of misery had begun to gnaw away at the redheaded lawyer as he had realized he didn't have proper answers. Someone who took pride in their preparedness was being met with something that he had no control over. It likely showed on his face, the way the fake smile only stretched further across his pale features. "I..." An echo chamber. Something about the fact that Emil confirmed what he had assumed all along had the man rethinking what he had been about to say entirely. He could only watch as the other continued to speak, unsure of how to respond.
How could he turn down an opportunity like this?
"I- Well it's not- I don't hate the legal system. Just the people who work within it." He wondered if that sounded bad, like he had an insane amount of self loathing hidden inside- he did- of him. "They just never correct their own misinformation. They always go on and on about how bad everyone is, and then when heroes do the same thing-" He shook his head. "There's a loophole for everything," Atticus settled on. "They make sure of it, so the government and their heroes can get away with destroying the fuckin' city in the same way that villains go to jail for." He frowned.
"And having police and heroes. We have to pick one. There's too much overlap and the level of skill in each varies so greatly and-" Atticus looked genuinely frustrated at this next point. It had o do with his godforsaken brother, of course his disdain would show. "-The way they go about the cops in general. Always people with shitty fucking powers who want to feel important." He shook his head. "The whole system is some shitty power trip. All nicely organized to make people think that they're the only good people."
Atticus fell silent for a moment, face growing red with embarrassment. He had gotten too personal in his own mind. There was a moment of hesitation as he looked back at Emil. "You're not as annoying right now." The words were horrifically honest. He wouldn't be able to get away with saying something like that to anyone else. "Are you... Okay?" The question was cautious, and Atticus really would much rather not have an answer. But, he had asked. Because it seemed polite.
Emil listened intently. He was worried that it wasn't clear he was listening intently, because he wasn't sure how you showed that, but he was trying his best. There was an attempt to nod at the appropriate times, to indicate that he was actually absorbing the information. Nearly, he said 'mhm' a few times, before worrying on whether or not that would be seen as interrupting. Having Atticus open up was far easier than trying to ask questions himself, but it came with other problems that he hadn't anticipated.
A lot of it made sense. Many things mentioned were things he hadn't thought of before; he did cause quite a bit of destruction. More than intended, certainly. He'd just always been assured it was for the greater good, and while he was causing it he didn't really get a chance to assess the extent of the damage, so it never really hit him that he did as much as villains. He wasn't even sure if he could fix that, actually. His power sort of just...you know, destroyed things. Often.
It also was a bit hurtful that Atticus classified his whole career as a 'power trip', and he almost openly winced, but managed to hold himself back. He reminded himself that Atticus wasn't actually aware he was a hero, but then also reminded himself that if Atticus did know, he'd still say the same thing, because he meant it. Emil liked to think he wasn't doing it for a power trip. A small part of him wondered if he was without meaning to, though. It was going to bother him for at least the rest of the week, if not longer.
When asked if he was alright, he froze rigidly for a moment, before the tension seeped out and he set his gaze off to the side. He was generally all in favor of honesty. However, in this case? He really didn't want to be honest. He wanted to brush it off and move on, because Atticus found him less annoying right now and he didn't want to ruin in.
So, what came out of his mouth was "I think some of my groceries are melting." Was it a perfect response? No. Was it better than most alternatives? He was pretty sure it was. "But they'll refreeze. I think." There was a small paused, before he glanced up at Atticus, smiling in a way that clearly was more exhausted than the customer-service-esque one he'd had plastered on when he'd first went to Atticus' apartment. "Thanks for speaking to me. Uh, I hope I didn't take too much time out of your day." That seemed appropriate and polite. He couldn't see a way how that would be taken badly.