Max Thunderman groaned, blinking awake slowly. Phoebe was leaning over him, haloed by a bright light, concern written all over her features. "Phoebe?"
"You're awake!" She smiled and sighed with relief, sinking back into her chair. "We've been so worried."
Worried? Worried for Max? That was a first. "How long have I been out?"
"About a day. You missed the baby's first power."
The baby? Oh yeah, the baby. That seemed like an eternity ago. He thought back, trying to remember what had happened when he was rescued and trying to avoid thinking about what had happened before. He didn't need to deal with that quite yet. "What about Colosso?"
"He and most of the other villains escaped when the Hero League arrived." Her face soured and she deflated slightly. "Dad was too worried about you to try and chase them. We don't know where they could have gone."
Part of Max was glad- he never wanted to see their faces again- but part was also upset. Colosso knew everything. He could lead the villains to the Thunderman household and destroy what life they had managed to set up in Hiddenville. They were all at risk because he'd been dumb enough to turn Colosso back into a human and fall into their trap. "Phoebe, I-"
"It's okay," she interrupted. "You're not the only one who revealed our family. I... I told Cherry everything. Max, what happened?"
He sat up slowly, ignoring the sharp pain that flared between his hips. "The Villain League sent Colosso a letter telling him that he was going to be named villain of the decade. I turned him human and we went to the ceremony. But it turned out to be a lie, they wanted to take Colossos cape because he hasn't done anything for a decade. To keep them from taking his cape, he revealed that I was Thundermans son." He paused, silently debating how much to tell her. She looked like she was kicking herself hard enough, she didn't need to deal with what he'd been dumb enough to walk into. "Long story short, they took out their hatred of him on me and used me as bait to lure him to their lair. You know the rest."
Her shoulders wilted. "Max, I'm so sorry."
He blinked. Phoebe apologizing to him? Maybe he had a concussion. "For what?"
"I should've been paying attention. I knew the Villain League was planning something." She sighed. "Instead I was worrying about what was happening with Cherry. I didn't even notice you were gone until Dad called."
Story of his life- they didn't notice he was gone until the proof was shoved in their faces. "Who's here?"
"Me, Billy, Nora, the baby, our parents, and Oyster. Speaking of which, I should go tell them that you're awake. Oh, and President Kickbutt dropped by and left this for you." She produced a letter from on top of the heart monitor. He ran a thumb over the seal as she left. Why would president Kickbutt leave him a letter? She didn't even acknowledge his existence most of the time.
Oyster appeared in the doorway, exhausted and disheveled. "Max! Oh thank god-"
He ran over, pulling Max into a kiss. Max melted against him, relief flooding his battered body. At least he still had one person who cared about him. He put a hand on the small of Max's back. Max's body cringed away from the touch.
Oyster pulled back from the kiss, confusion written all over his face. "Max? What's wrong?"
Unbidden tears sprang to his eyes but he blinked them away. "I'm fine."
"You aren't," Oyster whispered. "You're all beaten up, you were in surgery... Max, what did they do to you?"
He couldn't cry he couldn't cry he couldn't cry- "I'll tell you later." He scooted over in his bed and patted the empty space next to him, silently asking his boyfriend to lay with him. Oyster nodded and joined him, and Max cuddled against him. It couldn't have been more than a few days since they'd last seen each other, but it felt like an eternity. "I'm glad you're here."
The rest of his family flooded into the room, plus a toddler-age kid who he guessed was the baby. His mom and dad wore carefully guarded expressions. They knew.
For a while, no one said anything.
"How long are they going to keep me here?" Max asked, trying to break the uncomfortable silence.
"A few weeks," Barb answered. "Maybe longer. Are you doing okay?"
Like she cared- "I'm fine. Just tired." He waited for the accusations, for them to blame him for what had happened. But they didn't. "Can I ask you guys a favour?"
"Before I come home, can someone go through my room and toss out all the villain stuff and Colosso's cage? Not any of my gadgets, just the villain memorabilia and such."
It took a second for them to get over their shock.
"Yeah," Hank said. "Sure, Max. Are you sure?"
He nodded. If this was what villains did to kids, even to kids they didn't like, then he no longer wanted to be one.
He was done with villains.