There's a knock on the door, same as every morning, and Ruel comes in without waiting for a reply, just as predictably. He tosses a change of clothes and a couple granola bars onto the end of the bed: "C'mon, kid, we've got stuff to do today."
Nova hurries to get changed into the new clothes. "I- yes, sir. Um- I- what? Stuff, that is?"
"Somebody needs a reminder about paying back their loans. Good chance to show the bosses you can pull your weight, I'd say."
"Oh- I-" He stops, unsure how to voice how unsure he is about this, without sounding like he's arguing. He's finished dressing, and grabs the granola bars, tucking one away in his pocket, and opening the other to eat now.
Ruel herds Nova out the door and up the hall, not interfering when two of the boy's usual tormentors are there to kick at him, just steadying his stumble and continuing on.
"I'm thinking we'll head out to the practice yard this afternoon, if they don't need me for anything else. You were pretty close to getting the medium target, yeah? Maybe you'll pull it off this time."
He closes in on himself as they pass his tormentors, but brightens slightly at the mention of the practice yard, nodding. "I- please?"
"They might need me for that thing with Ben, if Raven doesn't want to do it. But if I'm free, yeah." He gives him a quick pat on the back, and then they're at the garage, where another group of half a dozen Fallen are getting into costume next to the van they're about to load into. One of them, a short stocky bear of a man, notices them come in and peels off of the group.
"Bringing us a treat, Ruel?"
"Nah, he's with me today."
"Aww. You sure? I bet you could take Kitty, instead, she's good for anything he is. Well, almost," he leers.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Don't you have work to do? Quinn," he calls over to the group, "doesn't he have work to do?"
"Yeah," comes the reply, a little grudging. "C'mon, Maxo, the sooner we get going the sooner we'll be back."
"I guess. See you later, sweet thing." He ruffles Nova's hair and goes back to the group.
Ruel shudders, subtly, when the other man turns away, and guides Nova to a car with a gentle hand on his shoulder.
Nova flinches slightly from the man's hand, and is relieved to follow Ruel.
It's a bit of a drive to where they're going, and Ruel is chatty; it's been a few days since he's worked with Nova, and he has plenty to say about the progress his other students have made and how happy the heads of the family are about that. He has a few words of encouragement, too, the same pep talk Nova's heard dozens of times already: plenty of people have trouble with control at first, and he could make a breakthrough any time, really, it's not common for things to go that way but it totally does happen.
They skirt the city proper and end up in a nice tree-shaded suburb; Ruel pulls the car over on an unremarkable residential street to get a pair of masks out of the glove compartment and passes one back before looking away to put on his own. "All right, kid, almost there. This'll be a nice easy one; it's a bookstore, so nothing fiddly, just hold off until everybody's out and then you can light it up." His mask is on; he looks up, into the rear-view mirror. "Got it?"
...He doesn't like the idea of that. Not really. But he nods slowly as he pulls the mask on - his reluctance is noticeable, but he doesn't voice anything yet.
"You all right, kid?"
"Ah- yes? I- just-"
"...it's a bookshop?"
"Yeah, I said that. Something wrong?"
"I- it seems... Wrong?"
"Yeah, we're not the good guys, kid."
"I know! I know-" He doesn't know how to explain.
"And I know you don't want to piss off the family. So let's just get it over with, yeah?" And there's the push of Ruel's power; it's subtle, easy enough to miss if you don't know he's a cape, not enough to change anything if someone's really made up their mind - but for someone who hasn't, who doubts themselves, it's that much easier to just do as they're told.
He nods. "I-yes. Sorry. Yes."
He pulls the car around and leads them in, leaving Nova to browse the stacks while he goes to talk to the owner.
Well. It's not like he can read, but he browses anyway, fingers brushing across spines, inhaling the distinct bookshop smell.
Ruel has a couple books tucked under his arm when he comes back. "Go ahead, kid."
He hesitates, because he doesn't want to do this, doesn't want to burn this place down, no matter how easy it would be...
"Kid. Burn it." Push.
The whispered 'yes sir' is lost as he lets the flames burst out from under his skin.
It's always somehow...freeing, when he does this, even if he hates what he's having to do, he loves using his powers. (Likes the idea that Ruel might tell him 'well done' when he's finished.)
There's a lot of paper here, obviously, it doesn't take much to have the store a roaring blaze.