This is a collection of vignettes which focuses on various background and supporting characters, giving a brief glimpse into each of their lives.
Whateley Academy, Tuesday Sept 4th, 2007
Devon Roth slowly walked the distance between Doyle and Kane, fully aware of the armed security guards who walked beside him. His two escorts were there to make sure he went straight to the campus security office and didn’t make any detours.
At the same time, Devon was also quite aware of the ache in his arm, which was wrapped up with bandages. Even after the doctors cleaned up his injury, gave him a shot for the pain, and used some kind of magic to speed up the healing, he could still feel it where that freak teacher had torn him open.
Devon shuddered at the memory, feeling shocked that she’d been able to hurt him so easily. After all, he’d chosen the codename of Iron for a reason. His PK shell usually made him as tough as iron, protecting him from getting hurt. In fact, this was the first time that Devon had been hurt since manifesting as a mutant.
When they reached Kane hall, the security guards led him to a hallway and then to a door with a sign that read ‘CHIEF DELAROSE’.
“Here you go, tough guy,” One of the security personal said. “The Chief would like to have a word with you.”
Then, as the security people left, the other one commented, “I can’t believe this kid thought he could just jump a teacher…even one like her.”
Devon scowled at that, then made a brief attempt to straighten his school uniform a little before he entered the room. The office was not large and ornate, like his father’s was. His father’s office was designed mostly for show, to impress the people he did business with. However, the office that Devon stepped into, was clearly meant as a place to work.
The desk had several stacks of paper piled up around the edges, along with several more folders that seemed to be placed at random. However, Devon’s attention went to the gruff looking man who sat behind the desk, and who was fixing him with a hard stare.
“Devon Roth,” Chief Delarose said, not taking his eyes off Devon. “It’s only the first day of classes and you’ve already attacked one of your teachers. That doesn’t sound like a very good start to the school year.”
Devon knew that he was in a lot of trouble for what he’d done, but he couldn’t resist sneering a little anyway. He could hardly believe that this school would make someone like HER into a teacher. She was a freak and a supervillain, so it wasn’t like he’d attacked a real teacher.
“I forgot to take my medication,” Devon offered, having already explained that to the doctors at Doyle. With all the chaos of moving to Whateley and starting up at the new school, it had completely thrown him off his usual routine, and he’d forgotten to take his medication once…or a dozen times.
“Yes, I know about your condition,” Delarose said, sounding like it didn’t matter. “Without your medication, you become prone to impulsiveness and violence.” He looked at his computer, then back at Devon. “My job is to take care of the incident paperwork and decide whether or not you’re a threat to the people in this school. Mrs. Carson will be the one who decides what happens with you.”
Though Devon was worried, he still gave Delarose a defiant look. He was sure that they couldn’t do anything too bad to him, especially since the only thing he’d done was fight off a supervillain. After all, since that freak was a villain, and she’d injured him, it would be easy to blame the whole thing on her. His father was a high-end lawyer with a lot of influential friends, and once his father was done, not only would this school apologize to him, but they’d have to fire that deformed freak as well.
“Attacking any faculty or staff member is a serious offense,” Delarose said, still fixing Devon with his gaze. “However, you should be aware that you made another mistake as well, one that could result in even greater consequences.”
“What’s that?” Devon asked, becoming curious over the way Delarose was acting.
Delarose smiled faintly, and it wasn’t a pleasant smile. “Not only did you attack a teacher, but you attacked the Imp. Out of all the staff and faculty on campus, she is among the top five that you LEAST want to have angry at you.”
Devon gave the security chief a skeptical look. “She doesn’t seem that tough…” However, the throbbing ache in his arm reminded him that the Imp had gone through his PK shell, as though it hadn’t even been there.
“Oh, the Imp isn’t especially powerful,” Delarose admitted, his eyes still remaining locked on Devon. “However, she is creative.”
“Creative?” Devon asked, feeling a little confused. “What do you mean?”
Delarose gave that faint smile again, which made chills go down Devon’s spine. “When the Imp has a grudge against someone, she doesn’t go after them physically. Instead, she gets…creative. She attacks their reputations.”
Devon blinked at that. “She attacks their reputations?” That hardly sounded very threatening.
“She humiliates them,” Delarose explained. “She completely destroys their reputations and turns them into laughingstocks. More than one hero has retired after she was done with them.”
Before Devon could fully absorb this, much less respond, Delarose opened up a folder and removed a large photo. Without a word, he set it down on the desk in front of Devon. It was a picture of a man in a white spandex costume with blue trim.
“Slipstream was a hero,” Delarose said, tapping the picture. “And he’s the earliest example I have of the Imp’s creative revenge.”
“What kind of revenge?” Devon asked curiously.
“From what I understand,” Delarose continued, “Slipstream pulled her tail…rather violently. She retaliated by slipping him a strong laxative, right before a large publicity event. By the next day, the local media had renamed him Skidmark, and that was probably the most polite of his new nicknames. He retired and left the public eye less than a week later.”
Delarose pulled out a second photo, of another hero, who was dressed in a mostly red costume. “The Crimson Kid,” the security chief said. “She destroyed his reputation as a hero, then his civilian reputation, before giving that identity to several of his enemies. He’s been in hiding for over a decade.”
Another picture went down, this time of a gorgeous woman with long black hair, that had to be nearly seven feet in length. “Ms. Tress was a villain with prehensile hair. The Imp snuck in while she was asleep and shaved her bald, then left her to the mercy of her own victims.”
Several more photos went onto the desk in front of Devon. “Stratosphere. The Harlequeen. Polarstorm. The Provoker. Jack Rabbit. Most of them are more powerful than the Imp, but all have earned her personal enmity, and have had their reputations destroyed as a result.”
Devon stared down at the pictures, then demanded, “Why would you hire a villain like that?” His mind raced, and he was sure that his father would be able to sue the school into bankruptcy for that.
Delarose was silent for a moment, before answering. “I’ve been assured that in spite of her previous career, the Imp is highly qualified as an art teacher.”
“But she’s a villain,” Devon spat out contemptuously. “She hurt me…” He held his bandaged arm up in demonstration, though Delarose didn’t seem impressed.
“She was a villain,” Delarose agreed evenly. “As are several of the other staff and faculty.” That caused Devon to pause. “The Imp is simply more open about her previous career than the others.”
Devon gulped, suddenly wondering about his other teachers, and trying to guess if any of them had been villains as well. It was hard to imagine. At least the Imp looked like the villain she was, which made her easy to identify.
“Your injury was a result of the Imp defending herself from your attack,” Delarose reminded him in a cold tone. “You’re lucky that she held back, or you might have lost your entire hand.”
“What?” Devon blurted out in surprise.
Delarose scowled at him as he continued, “The Imp has retired from her previous career and has promised to obey Whateley rules. That being said, there are dozens of ways she could show her displeasure without overtly violating any rules, or leaving any evidence of wrongdoing on her part.” When Devon gulped in understanding, Delarose added, “If I were you, I would make a sincere apology to the Imp, and hope that she doesn’t hold a grudge over your unprovoked attack.”
For a moment, Devon remained where he was, frozen by the realization of what the chief of security had just told him. Though he hadn’t said it in those exact words, the meaning was clear. If that freak decided to come after him, security wouldn’t do anything about it.
“So, what happens now?” Devon asked with a deep scowl.
“Now,” Delarose said as he stood up. “I escort you to Shuster Hall, where Mrs. Carson is waiting to talk to you.” He stared at Devon with a grim expression. “You remember that I mentioned a list of faculty members who you don’t want angry at you…”
“Yes,” Devon cautiously answered.
“Mrs. Carson is number one on that list,” Delarose stated with a faint smile, though it was not a pleasant one. “And at the moment, she is very unhappy with you.”
Devon stared at Delarose with a sinking feeling, along with a growing suspicion that his father wouldn’t be able to help him this time.
Emerson Cottage, Wednesday Sept 26th, 2007
Fixx stared across the table at his two opponents, then down at the cards in his hand. He was currently playing Xombie Horde, a card game that Doorstop had brought. The whole game was silly, but surprisingly fun.
“I equip my Zombie Enforcer with Infectious Rot,” Fixx announced as he played a card. “And I’m feeding a brain to my Zombie Chihuahua, to heal him for ten points.”
“Not bad,” Doorstop said.
Fixx watched Doorstop, a friend and fellow Underdog. At the moment, Doorstop was looking kind of smug, which probably didn’t mean anything good for him.
Doorstop placed a card onto the table. “I play Call of the Revenant, which lets me bring any zombie in my graveyard back into play. I pick my Ghoulish Ballerina.”
“I don’t think so,” the third player said. Cerberus dropped a card of his own onto the table. “Worm Food. Return any zombie to the graveyard.”
“Damn,” Doorstop exclaimed in annoyance.
“There’s no way I’m gonna let you get your ballerina back,” Cerberus pointed out. “But while we’re here, I’m putting my Overzealous Survivalist into play, along with a Kaboom Stick.”
Fixx chuckled at that. He was probably going to lose now, but that was all right. With an easy grin, he played his next card, which activated one of Doorstop’s traps. The next thing he knew, he was being overrun with a group of Hungry Shamblers, which killed off his only living resource, and even worse, sent his Zombie Housewife to the graveyard.
Since Fixx was probably only one turn away from losing the game, he leaned back and glanced around the rest of the common room, absently wondering if anyone else would be interested in joining them for the next game. The room was fairly full at the moment, so there would probably be someone.
Tektonix, Bunsen, and Wendigo were all watching TV, and none of them were likely to join the game. Aegis was talking with Broadsword, and the conversation seemed to be fairly lively, though Fixx couldn’t hear what they were talking about.
Cerberus suddenly announced, “I attack with my Overzealous Survivalist, and my Gorilla Ghoul…”
“I’m out,” Fixx said, dropping the rest of his cards onto the table.
“Wait,” Doorstop exclaimed, staring at Fixx’s cards. “You had Thriller Dance in your hand this whole time?”
“Yep,” Fixx responded with a grin. “I just didn’t have the right chance to use it…”
“Too bad for you,” Cerberus told him. “You could have won the game if you had.”
Fixx shrugged. “Maybe.”
Just then, Fixx noticed Iron stepping into the room. Iron paused to look around, and quickly realized that all the seats were taken, so there was no place for him to sit.
“Move,” Iron commanded Doorstop in an arrogant tone. “I need that chair.”
“I’m still using it,” Doorstop protested.
Iron grabbed Doorstop to lift him out of the chair, but Doorstop remained where he was. There was a look of surprise on Iron’s face, then one of determination before he tried again. Iron was obviously using his PK strength to try lifting Doorstop, but the boy still remained where he was, not budging an inch.
Fixx burst out laughing. “You know, you can’t move Doorstop if he doesn’t want to move. That’s his power…”
Of course, Fixx didn’t bother pointing out that the weakness with Doorstop’s power was that one good punch was usually enough to take him out and turn off his power. Being immovable would have been a great power for a brick, though it wasn’t nearly as useful for someone who lacked that kind of sturdiness.
Iron glared at Fixx, obviously not happy about being laughed at. That didn’t surprise Fixx though, because Iron always seemed a bit full of himself, though sometimes he was worse than others.
“I don’t need to hear from a devisor who thinks that duct tape is the pinnacle of technological advancement,” Iron said with a contemptuous sneer.
Fixx just shrugged at that, not the least bit bothered by the insult. He’d heard it all before, especially from the other kids in the labs. As far as being a gadgeteer and devisor went, he was on the low end of the spectrum, and about as low tech as those powers could get. There was no point in getting upset by the simple truth.
“Never underestimate the power of duct tape,” Fixx responded with a cheerful grin. “Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.”
Iron scowled, and without warning, shoved Fixx, who fell backward in his chair and landed on the ground. Instantly, several people responded.
Aegis stepped forward, asking, “Do we need to have a talk about picking on people who can’t fight back?”
At the same time, Cerberus suddenly had two identical clones appear, one on each side of him. The three of them glared at Iron with cold expressions.
“Hey, calm down,” Fixx said as he got back to his feet. “No fighting in the dorm…”
“You’re pathetic,” Iron announced, the contempt still clear in his voice. “This is a waste of my time.” And with that, he turned and left the room.
“Well, that was fun,” Doorstop commented wryly.
“Yeah,” Cerberus agreed. “And knowing Devon, he’ll probably come back in ten minutes or so to try it again.”
Fixx just grinned. “No problem. I can take care of that.”
Cerberus and Doorstop both gave him skeptical looks. “How?” Doorstop asked. “No offense, but you wouldn’t stand a chance against him…”
“Who said anything about fighting him?” Fixx responded with a chuckle. Then he reached into the satchel that almost always hung from his side and pulled out a roll of duct tape. “Duct tape. The solution to all of life’s problems.”
Fixx left the common room and went to the hall where he lived, just in time to see Iron disappear into his room. With a cheerful grin, Fixx tore off a foot long strip of duct tape, then went up to Iron’s closed door.
“This should do nicely,” Fixx mused to himself, right before sticking the strip of tape across the door and the frame, taping the door shut.
Along with being a gadgeteer and devisor, Fixx had another power, one that seemed to be an extension of his devisor ability. He could bend the laws of physics a little, amplifying the properties of any material he worked with. In this case, he could make duct tape much stronger and sticker than it would be normally.
Fixx gave a loud knock on the door, then stood back. It only took a couple seconds before Iron’s voice called out from the other side, demanding, “Who is it?” Fixx didn’t answer. A couple seconds later, the door began jiggling as Iron tried opening it, but the enhanced duct tape held it firmly in place. Iron began yelling and making threats, but Fixx just smiled and walked away. Iron might be able to break the whole door down, but he wouldn’t be able to break through the tape until the enhancement wore off.
When Fixx returned to the common room and the table, he cheerfully said, “The problem has been fixed. Now, are you guys up for another game?”
Whitman Cottage, Wednesday Oct 3rd, 2007
The girl awoke to the annoying sound of her alarm going off. With a snarl, she turned off her alarm and sat up in bed. The room was still dark, though she could see in it as clearly as if the lights had been turned on. She had exceptional night vision, which was one of the only good things to have come out of her mutation.
She glanced over at her new roommate, Mina Maxwell, just as Mina was climbing out of bed. As soon as Mina turned on the light, she cheerfully said, “Good morning…”
“Bite me,” the girl responded, fixing her roommate with a glare.
Mina wasn’t bothered by that. She never was. Mina was one of those cheerful and optimistic girls who always got on her nerves. And what was even worse, was that Mina was a pretty. Thankfully, she wasn’t one of those exemplar girls or she would have been completely intolerable. As it was, she was a very cute girl with shoulder-length brown hair and a smattering of freckles that made her look adorable.
The girl waited where she was until Mina ran out the door to the showers. Only then did she reach under her covers and pull out the stuffed rabbit that she slept with every night. Missus Flop had been her childhood companion back when she’d been a little girl, though she’d put the rabbit away once she got older. However, once she’d manifested and found that she really needed a friend, Missus Flop had been pulled off the shelf and put back to use. Of course, she didn’t dare let anyone know about Missus Flop, not even her roommate.
“There you go,” the girl said as she put Missus Flop into her dresser where she would be safely hidden until it was time for bed.
Once, she silently reminded herself, she’d had a real life. She’d even had a real name. Back then, her name had been Colleen Thompson, though nobody had called her that for a long time. That made sense though, because she wasn’t Colleen anymore, and never would be again. Now she had a new name, one that suited her a little better.
After a minute, the former Colleen left her room to go take her own shower. As she stepped into the hallway, she saw Porcelain, who lived in the next room over, and gave a polite nod. Porcelain nodded back, cracking her porcelain skin in the process, in a way that looked painful. However, Porcelain never complained about any pain, so the girl never said anything about it.
When the former Colleen reached the showers, she took a quick glance around the room to see who was present. A couple girls were already in the stalls, but there were two others who had just finished up with their showers.
Bethany, AKA Drama, or more commonly known by the derisive nickname of Drama Queen because of her attitude, gave her a look of disapproval. She was used to people looking at her like that, though that didn’t mean she liked it.
“Watch it,” she snapped at Bethany, who quickly hurried out of the room. Once Bethany was gone, she grumbled, “I don’t know how Porcelain puts up with that bitch.”
“Porcelain doesn’t have much choice,” Stryff answered. “But at least she’s immune to Drama’s powers. You know what Drama did to Mina when they were rooming together…”
“Yeah,” the former Colleen responded with a scowl.
The girl felt sorry for anyone who had to room with Bethany, but at least Porcelain didn’t have it as bad as Mina had. All that Porcelain had to worry about was Bethany’s bad attitude. Back when Mina had been rooming with Bethany, the bitch had used her powers to manipulate Mina’s emotions and even control her a bit. That was why Mina had been moved into her room just a week earlier.
She looked Stryff over, noting that the blue-skinned girl was using two of her arms to dry herself off with a towel, while using her other two arms to brush her hair. Between the extra arms, the dark blue skin, and the red eyes, Stryff looked just as scary as she did. It was no wonder the two of them got along as well as they did. Both of them had to deal with the same kind of problems, at least for the most part.
“Later,” she told Stryff, before stepping into an empty stall.
While the former Colleen showered, she thought about Stryff and how lucky the other girl was to still have a family. When Stryff had manifested, her family had remained by her side, helping her deal with her changes and all the problems that came with them. She hadn’t been nearly as lucky.
She thought of her own mother, a ‘pillar of the community’, who never missed a Sunday service, or a chance to let other people know that she was a better person than they were. When she’d manifested as a mutant and began to change, her mother had been quick to point out that this was her punishment from God, for being such a wicked girl. Her mother had told her that her heart must have been full of darkness, and that if she’d really been the good person she pretended to be, and had truly accepted God, then this never would have happened to her.
Her father hadn’t been any better. He was a firm atheist and didn’t believe that she was possessed by the devil or doomed to Hell. Instead, he thought she was just a dangerous mutation, and a cancer cell in the human gene pool, who shouldn’t be allowed to spread.
She thought that it was ironic, that her parents, who hated each other and had never agreed on anything for as long as she could remember, had finally found one thing that they could agree on. That she was a monster.
If it hadn’t been for a sympathetic neighbor who’d learned about her situation and sponsored her for Whateley, she had absolutely no idea where she would have been. At the very best, she would have been living on the streets. She didn’t even want to think about where else she could have ended up, like an unmarked grave.
The girl finished her shower and left the stall, letting the next girl take her place. Then she went over to one of the sinks and began to dry her hair. Her eyes locked onto her reflection and she scowled a little more deeply, feeling another stirring of bitterness and resentment.
Her skin was pure black, the color of tar, and a pair of yellow eyes stared back from those dark features. A pair of horns grew from her forehead and curved back, being a perfect match for her long devil’s tail. She really did look the part of a dark-hearted monster from Hell, just like what her mother had called her.
Darqueheart turned away from the mirror, wrapped her towel firmly around her body, and made her way back down the hall to her room. When she stepped inside, she saw Mina was already back and mostly dressed. At that moment, her roommate was pulling up a pair of mix-matched socks. One was bright yellow while the other was pink with red hearts all over it.
“You and your socks,” Darqueheart said.
“I like fun socks,” Mina said a little defensively. Then she pulled out a red and gold bow and began tying it into her hair. “Besides, I’m stuck wearing a boring uniform all day, so I need some personal touches.” Then she gave Darqeueheart a cheerful grin and added, “Not all of us can look as distinct as you do. Some of us actually have to work at standing out.”
Darqueheart was about to snap at Mina for mocking her, but the other girl looked like she was just being friendly and didn’t mean anything bad about it. After a couple seconds, Darqueheart nodded and turned to get her own clothes. Maybe Mina wasn’t that bad…for a pretty.
Crystal Hall, Thursday Oct 4th, 2007
“So, who was it this time?” Jon asked.
Chris Matthews finished setting his dinner tray down at the table and looked across it to his best friend Jon Homer. Jon was a slender black kid, about the same age as him. And at the moment, Jon was giving him a curious look.
Feeling self-conscious, Chris reached up and felt his eye. His black eye. Thankfully his regeneration was working, or he would have shown up to dinner with a lot more than just the black eye. He expected that by the time he was done eating, that would have vanished the same all his other bruises had.
“Dump Truck,” he grudgingly admitted as he sat down. “He was messing with Ribbit… You know, that green kid from Twain…”
“And you decided to jump in and play hero,” Jon responded wryly. “Again.”
“Someone had to do something,” Chris responded defensively.
Jon just gave him a look of amusement as he ate a French fry. “Look, dude, you don’t always have to fight. There are other ways to solve problems…”
This was a familiar discussion and Chris rolled his eyes at that. “And sometimes you have to fight.”
“True,” Jon admitted, though Chris couldn’t really imagine Jon fighting. Jon was too laid back and easygoing for that. “I just think you jump into it a little too quickly at time… I mean, it’s like you’re trying to prove something…”
Chris scowled at that, feeling uncomfortable with just how accurate Jon’s words were. Though Chris would never admit it, he did have something to prove, even if he wasn’t quite sure what. He’d spent his entire life trying to prove it…to prove that he was good enough. That he was tough enough. That he was worthy. He’d pushed himself as hard as he could, throwing himself into every opportunity to prove himself, but to his shame and frustration, it was never enough.
“You’re imagining things,” Chris responded in annoyance. He didn’t want to talk about this, even with his best friend.
Suddenly, Jon exclaimed, “Damn. Look at that ass…”
Chris didn’t bother turning to look. The last time Jon had said that, he’d been staring at Jericho. How Jon could look at that eyesore Jericho, much less stare at him, Chris had absolutely no idea. However, in spite of that decision, Chris found himself turning to look anyway, out of curiosity of nothing else. To his relief, he saw that Jon had been referring to Cinderella, the cute blonde girl from over in Poe.
“Not bad,” Chris said with a nod of approval. “Are you going to ask her out?”
Jon chuckled at that. “Naw. Cindy and I are buds, but I don’t think I’m her type.”
“Then maybe I’ll ask her out,” Chris said, only to see Jon smirking at that.
“Yeah,” Jon agreed. “You should…” Then he chuckled again, though Chris didn’t see what was so funny. Did Jon really think she was that far out of his league?
Chris grimaced, once again reminding himself that he had something to prove. With as many fights as he lost, he knew that he’d really have to work hard if he wanted to prove that he was worth dating. As it was, he had no illusions about his reputation, and doubted that any girls in school would want him right then. That just meant that he’d have to work harder. He’d have to show them what he was really made of.
Instead of saying anything, Chris turned his full attention to the food in front of him. After taking a few good bites, he asked, “Did you hear about Cauldron and what she did to Bunsen?”
Jon chuckled at that. “You mean that potion that turned his skin purple? Nope. Didn’t hear about it.”
“You’re in some magic classes with her,” Chris said, giving Jon a curious look. “Did you hear why?”
“Bunsen was badmouthing her potions,” Jon answered with an amused look. “Well, magic potions in general, but I guess I can understand why. I mean, the dudes a major chemistry nerd, so he thinks magic potions are just cheating…”
“Ah,” Chris responded, nodding in understanding. “Sort of like that thing with gadgeteers and devisors.”
Just then, a shadow fell over the table and Chris looked up to see Silo standing there, trying to look intimidating. Since the older boy normally stood eight feet tall, that didn’t take much effort.
“Hey, what do we have here?” the large boy asked with a smirk. “Aegis and Voodude…a couple fags on a date.”
Chris glared up at Silo, tensing up and preparing to fight as he did. He didn’t know why Silo had decided to try messing with them, but he certainly wasn’t about to just sit there and take it.
“Ah, but I wish that were true,” Jon responded cheerfully. “But unfortunately, Chris here is as straight as an arrow, so I just don’t have a chance with him…”
Silo blinked at that, obviously surprised by Jon’s reaction. “Listen fag boy,” he started
“You have till the count of three to back off,” Chris stated, looking up at Silo.
Chris was charged up and glowing with his golden aura, ready to kick Silo’s ass…or at least, to try his best. He knew that he probably wouldn’t be able to take the older student, but he was certainly going to do his best. There was no way that he’d just sit there while some jerk screwed with his best friend.
“Can you hold it right there for just a second,” Jon said cheerfully, making Chris and Silo both look at him in surprise. “I want to get your nose just right.”
Jon had something in his hands, a little clay doll that he was currently molding. He gave Silo a thoughtful look before making another adjustment to its face.
“That should do it,” Jon announced, right before he held up a long needle, that had to be four inches long.
“What the hell is that?” Silo asked in confusion. “I knew you were fag, but playing with dolls…”
“Yep,” Jon responded. Then he held the needle point right against the doll’s crotch and just smiled up at Silo with an almost evil expression. “It’s a voodoo doll.”
Silo stared down at Jon for a moment, then at the doll. His eyes locked onto the long needle and where it was placed, and for a moment, he almost looked worried, though he quickly covered it up.
“I’ve got better things to do than waste my time with some pansy wimp,” Silo exclaimed dismissively, before turning and walking away.
Chris watched the boy leave, feeling relieved and disappointed at the same time. Sure, he probably wouldn’t have beaten Silo, but he would have liked the chance. If he tried hard enough, he was sure he could have managed to win. He would have been able to show everyone how tough he really was.
After a few seconds, Chris relaxed his power, sat back down, and turned his attention back to Jon. “You threatened him with a voodoo doll?”
Jon just shrugged and put the needle and doll into his backpack. “I told you dude, you don’t always have to fight.”
Chris snorted at that and pointed out, “You threatened to stab him in the nards.”
“Naw,” Jon responded with a chuckle. “Total bluff. I’d need to get some of his blood if I wanted it to actually work.”
“Well, that was still pretty ballsy,” Chris told him with grin. “But I have a feeling that I’ll have to deal with him sooner or later.”
Jon rolled his eyes. “You just have to prove what a badass you are…”
“You know it,” Chris told him with a grin, trying hard not to think about his earlier encounter with Dump Drunk and how that had worked out. Or how all his other fights had ended. “I know I’m great, and sooner or later, everyone else is going to see that too.”
When they were finished eating, Chris said goodbye to Jon and made his way back to Emerson. He was relieved to see that his roommate was gone, because at the moment, he wanted a little time to himself.
Jon’s accusations about him trying to prove something still rang in his ears. And though Chris would never admit this to anyone, he knew how true that was. He did have a lot to prove, and he’d been trying to prove it for as long as he could remember…to his friends, to his classmates, to the Future Superheroes of America, to his parents, and especially, to himself.
Chris stared at the framed picture that rested on top of his dresser. It was a simple photo of him and his parents, taken several years ago. He’d been playing soccer at the time and had just scored the winning goal. They’d been so proud of him.
“I want you to be proud of me,” Chris whispered.
He had absolutely no doubt that his parents loved him. They showed it all the time, regardless of how well he did in sports or school. And when he’d manifested as a mutant, they’d still accepted him without question or hesitation.
His birth parents hadn’t wanted him, but his mom and dad had. They’d chosen him, had taken him home, and made him a part of their family. And not once had they ever given him reason to think they regretted that decision.
Chris wanted to…needed to prove that he was worthy of their love. That he deserved to have them as parents, even if the only one he really needed to prove that to was himself.
Poe Cottage, Thursday Oct 11th, 2007
Lina Samhurst stepped out of the shower stall, letting out a sigh of contentment. After the day she’d had, a long hot shower was just what she needed to relax her aching body. She especially needed it after survival class, and everything that Mr. Anderson had put them through.
While Lina dried herself off, she glanced back at the shower stall, feeling a stirring of regret over the fact that she couldn’t use the ‘special’ features in the shower. Unfortunately, the extra ‘something’ that she’d been given by her spirit, meant that her body wasn’t really compatible with the hydroflux equipment. Lina was quite jealous of the other girls who could use it, especially when they bragged about how great it was.
A few minutes later, Lina put on the smooth and silky robe that her mom had sent her. It was mostly blue and green, with bits of purple scattered through it, so it matched her hair almost perfectly. The fact that her robe was covered with pictures of peacocks only made it all the more perfect for her.
Lina was about to leave when another girl came in and paused, looking self-conscious. Of course, Lina wasn’t surprised by that reaction, not from Danica. After all, Danica was only a part-time girl and didn’t use the girl’s facilities all that often. In fact, she was probably having to fight against a lifetime of conditioning about how she wasn’t supposed to go into the girl’s restrooms or locker rooms.
“Oh, hey Lina,” Danica greeted her just a little awkwardly.
“It looks like you’re having one of THOSE days,” Lina pointed out.
She knew that Danny Franks spent as little time in his Danica form as possible, so probably wasn’t all that happy at the moment. Danica just nodded, looking a little dejected.
“You could say that,” Danica responded with a sigh. “And to make it worse, my sister put some catnip toys in my room…and Wihinape wanted to play with them.”
Lina bit back a laugh and tried to keep from smirking. Instead, she said, “That sucks,” trying to sound as sympathetic as she could.
But as Lina looked at Danica, she couldn’t help but thinking about just how hot the other girl looked. The cat-girl thing was pretty exotic, but she had a really nice body. Before Lina realized it, her body began to respond. Then Danica noticed the bulge forming in front of Lina’s robe, and they both stood there frozen for a moment in awkward silence.
“I…should get going,” Lina blurted out in embarrassment before rushing out of the bathroom. She hurried back to her room and promptly locked the door behind her. “Damn,” she grumbled, quite aware of her erection. “I just had a hot shower, and now I need a cold one. How the hell do guys live with these things?”
Once Lina had calmed down a bit, and so had her extra part, she got dressed again. Though she would have preferred to just lounge around in her robe, she didn’t think it would be a good idea to wear that to dinner.
It didn’t take Lina long to get bored of hanging out by herself in her room, so she made her way down to the common room to see who was there. Shawn and Breakdown were the only other people in the room, but they were caught up in a conversation and she didn’t want to interrupt.
Lina found a nice spot on the couch and began flipping channels on the TV, hoping she could find something good. It wasn’t often that she was able to call dibs on the remote, so she wanted to take advantage of it while she could.
A couple minutes later, Shawn and Breakdown left, then Danny came into the room. Lina gave him a curious look, since he’d obviously changed back to his male form since she’d seen him in the bathroom. She blushed at the memory.
“Hey,” Danny said as he took a seat. He gave her a self-conscious smile, clearly remembering their earlier encounter.
Lina felt her spirit stir within, and he wasn’t happy about Danny’s presence. Or it would have been more accurate to say that he wasn’t happy about Danny’s spirit. That wasn’t a surprise though because she had a peacock spirit, while Danny’s was a cougar. It was only natural that her spirit would be wary of a predator, even one who hadn’t made an aggressive move.
When Lina looked over at Danny again, she noticed that he was watching her, and that he had a bulge in the front of his pants. He turned bright red, realizing that he’d been caught. She could sympathize.
“Don’t worry about it,” Lina told him sympathetically, having dealt with the same kind of unconscious reaction herself such a short time ago. “I know you can’t really control that kind of thing…”
“Yeah,” Danny responded, obviously still embarrassed. “I guess you do.” Then he gave her a wry smile. “I guess that must be really weird for you.”
“You have no idea,” Lina told him with a sigh. Then she gave him another look and added, “Actually, I guess you do.”
Danny nodded in reluctant agreement. “I guess we both have spirits of the wrong sex.” He shook his head and looked around. “But that seems to be pretty common around here.”
Lina chuckled, though there was a little bitterness in it. “Well, there aren’t a whole lot of us flipped avatars, but I know what you mean.”
“I don’t know how Kayda handles it,” Danny admitted. “Being a girl ALL the time. It’s weird enough just being part time…”
“I have THIS all the time,” Lina said, gesturing down towards her crotch. Fortunately, it was behaving itself and remaining flaccid. Of course, Danny was really hot and sexy as a girl, but did absolutely nothing for her now that he was a boy.
“At least you can hide it,” Danny pointed out. “Most people outside Poe don’t even know about it.”
Lina scowled as she reluctantly admitted, “That doesn’t always work.” At Danny’s curious look, she explained, “I used to have a best friend named Diedre. We practically grew up together, and were total BFFs… Then I manifested and grew this…THING.” Lina grimaced. “And I suddenly started to like girls instead of guys…” She closed her eyes for a moment.
“What happened?” Danny asked gently.
“I tried hiding it,” Lina told him with a bitter smile. “I figured, all I had to do was keep it in my pants and no one would know…” She let out a snort. “Well, I started crushing on Diedre, which was pretty freaking weird. I mean, she was my besty, and suddenly, I really wanted to jump her bones. Then, one day when I was over at her place, I kind of…got really hard. She saw the bulge, and demanded to know what it was, and…”
Lina paused at that, tears forming as she remembered the look of horror and disgust on Diedre’s face. Her best friend, the girl who’d been almost like a sister to her, had called her a perverted freak. Lina winced at the memory, and at the ache in her heart that hadn’t gone away, even months later. She hadn’t seen Diedre again since then.
“I’m sorry,” Danny said a little awkwardly.
“Not your fault,” Lina assured him. “Just one of the joys of being me.”
“I understand,” Danny replied with a sigh. “Having powers is really cool, but some of the things that come with them really suck.”
Lina snorted at that, tempted to make a joke about sucking, though she bit back on it. Danny might have either gotten offended or got the wrong idea. Now, if Danny had still been Danica, that might be a different situation entirely.
There were quite a few changelings around Poe, people who’d changed from one sex to the other. However, there were a lot fewer of them like her, ones who were left somewhere in between. She wasn’t quite a girl anymore, but wasn’t really a boy either. Danny kept bouncing back and forth between the two, which meant that he could probably understand her situation a bit more than people like Alyss or Martina.
“Since I’ve got you here,” Lina abruptly said. “Do you have any advice on how to make these things behave?”
Danny squirmed a little, obviously uncomfortable with that topic. Or maybe, he was just uncomfortable about talking about it with her. “Baseball,” he said, though his tone suggested it was more question than answer. “Think about baseball.”
Lina laughed at that. “Well, if anything can bore me enough to make it go down, it would probably be baseball…”
Just then, Jinx and Rose came into the room, caught up in a conversation about one of their classes. Lina glanced at them, feeling self-conscious about the conversation she’d just been having with Danny, and hoping that they hadn’t heard.
“Hey,” Jinx greeted them a few seconds later. “What are you two up to?”
Lina and Danny quickly looked at each other, then simultaneously answered, “Nothing.” They looked at each other again, then started to laugh.
Whateley Academy, Friday Oct 19th, 2007
“Welcome to Thunderdome,” Mischief yelled out gleefully. “Two mutants enter. One mutant leaves…”
The crowd of students cheered and hollered at that pronouncement. Monkeywrench looked around. There was no dome, just a bunch of students forming a ring around him and his opponent. They were all close enough to watch the action, while keeping their distance enough to avoid getting caught in it.
Monkeywrench then looked at Mischief, who was standing on top of a platform, dressed in an outfit that looked like it had come straight out of Mad Max. She even had shoulder pads that were made from chunks of car tires. He glanced down at himself and the loud Hawaiian shirt he was wearing. It was an awesome shirt, his favorite, but he still wished that he’d known about the whole Mad Max thing, so he could have dressed up too.
After a few more seconds, Monkeywrench turned his attention to the girl who stood across from him. She was a petite black girl, with her hair pulled back into pigtails. Trixie was his opponent du-jour, and in spite of the fact that she looked cute and harmless, he knew better than to underestimate her.
Just a couple days ago, he and Trixie had gotten into an argument in the labs, and things had escalated until they’d finally challenged each other to a duel. It probably would have remained small and private, except for the fact that they’d asked Mischief to be the referee, and she’d gotten a little carried away, as she often did. However, that was fine with Monkeywrench, because doing things this way was a lot more fun.
The furry boy grinned at Mischief, who grinned and waved back. Then he gave an exaggerated bow to Trixie, just like in those old martial arts movies.
“In this corner,” Mischief called out loud enough for everyone to hear her, “weighing in at who the heck cares, our own chunky monkey, the banana-fana-fo-fana, MONKEYWRENCH!”
There were cheers and applause from the audience as everyone got into the spirit of things, as well as a couple boos, which Monkeywrench ignored. He waved to the audience, grinning broadly as he did so.
“And in this corner,” Mischief continued, gesturing towards Trixie. “Weighing in and four hundred… No, SIX hundred pounds…”
Trixie glared at Mischief and yelled, “I do NOT weight that much…”
Mischief just grinned and blew her a raspberry. “The tiny titan of tricks…TRIXIE!”
There was another round of cheering and applause, with a few obligatory boos thrown in. Trixie just grinned and bowed, enjoying the attention.
Mischief let this go on for a minute before loudly announcing, “LET THE CONTEST BEGIN!”
“This should be interesting,” Monkeywrench told Trixie as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. “And in case you were about to ask, yes, this a banana, and yes, I am glad to see you…”
“I think you need some newer material,” Trixie told him.
Monkeywrench laughed. “Says the girl with her own line of whoopee cushions… I’ll have you know that I’m as fun as a barrel full of… Well…me.”
With that, Monkeywrench pulled the pin from his ‘banana’ and tossed it into the empty space between the two of them. A moment later, it exploded into a thick cloud of yellow smoke, and his nose immediately caught a strong artificial banana scent.
In a gruff gone, Monkeywrench announced, “I love the smell of bananas in the morning…”
The thick smoke continued to spread out, though the color changed from yellow to brown, and the smell changed from banana to rotten banana, and then to something even more vile. Monkeywrench had been expecting this and immediately held his breath, though some of the audience began coughing, gagging, and moving back.
“Ewwwww,” Mischief exclaimed, holding out a folding paper fan and waving it back and forth to push the smoke back. “That was nasty… It smells like monkey farts…”
Monkeywrench just grinned. “I knew I shouldn’t have had that double bean burrito for lunch…”
“You call that a fart?” Miasma called out from the audience. “That was nothing…”
“Don’t you dare,” Mischief warned him.
“Gross,” Trixie commented, using her hand to try waving the smelly air away from her. Then she smirked at Monkeywrench and asked, “Is that all you’ve got, Fuzzybutt?”
“What?” Monkeywrench asked her with a grin. “You think you can do better?”
Trixie just responded with a smug look. “Watch me.”
The girl held out her own weapon, a green metallic sphere the size of a tennis ball. From where he stood, Monkeywrench could see that she’d even painted a Mr. Yuck face on it. Then without any further words, Trixie tossed the sphere right next to where he’d thrown his banana. A moment after landing, it exploded into a noxious green cloud.
Monkeywrench was hit with the horrific, gut-wrenching stench, that was worse than anything he’d ever smelled before, except perhaps for Miasma. He immediately began to cough and gag, as did everyone in the audience that caught the scent. He clamped a hand over his nose and mouth, though his eyes still burned. With a grimace of resignation, he held up a stick with a white flag on it and began to wave his surrender.
Mischief gagged and waved even harder with her fan as she called out, “I declare Trixie the winner of the stink bomb duel.”
“Damn, that stuff is nasty,” Monkeywrench gasped out, giving Trixie a thumbs up and a nod of approval.
Trixie just grinned. “Not bad, but you’ve got a long way to go if you want to beat the master…”
Monkeywrench just laughed at that, quite happy with how things had turned out, even if he had lost. He’d had a lot of fun, and that was what really mattered. After all, this was WAY better than his old school since he never could have done anything like this back there. It was at times like these, that he was thankful he’d manifested as a mutant. Sure, he might look like a monkey, but at least his life wasn’t boring anymore.
“I’ll say one thing for that girl,” Monkeywrench said while holding his nose. “Trixie really does make the best stink bombs.”
Boston, Saturday Oct 20th, 2007
Maxine Granger calmly strolled down the sidewalk, keeping a close watch on her surroundings without looking like she was. She wanted to make sure that there were no signs of trouble, or of anyone following her. After that incident in Berlin, Maxine was especially careful to make sure that this trip away from campus didn’t become a repeat.
“Without Melissa,” Maxine quietly mused to herself, “this trip should be a lot less eventful.”
With a faint wry smile and a shake of her head, Maxine thought about her hyperactive roommate, who was a natural born trouble magnet. Maxine never knew what to make of the other girl, who alternately annoyed and amused her, not that she’d ever admit to the latter.
Then, Maxine turned her attention back to the business at hand, and promptly stopped to tie her shoe. While she was doing this, she glanced into the store window beside her. The whole window was reflective enough that it almost could have served as a mirror. In fact, Maxine could clearly see her own face staring right back at her.
Maxine was pretty, in a fine-featured and delicate way, almost like a doll. Unfortunately, she was also a little small for her age, petite as she liked to think of it, which made her appear a little younger than she actually was. Thanks to a side-effect of her mutation, she also had pointed ears and long magenta hair, which gave her an almost elven appearance. That had caused a little confusion as she’d been mistaken for being one of the Sidhe students on campus on several occasions.
Looking like this was useful, because people always underestimated her, but it could be incredibly frustrating too. For one thing, nobody took her seriously, and for another, boys overlooked her almost entirely, seeing her as a ‘little sister’ or someone to protect, but not as a potential date.
However, Maxine didn’t dwell on her reflection or the frustrations caused by her appearance. Instead, she was using the reflective surface of the window to look behind her. This was a trick that her father had taught her before his unfortunate death. To her relief, there was no sign that anyone was tailing her.
Once Maxine was sure that nobody was following her, she slipped through the door of a small café, then made her way towards the back corner. There was already someone sitting at the table, a man in a nice suit, with dark hair that was starting to turn grey.
“Maxine,” he greeted her politely, gesturing for her to take the empty seat. “I’m pleased that you were able to make it.”
“I had to ditch a couple of my classmates,” Maxine responded. “And our upperclassman escort.”
The waiter came over and poured a glass of water. Maxine took a sip, fully aware of how they must look to the wait staff or anyone else who saw the two of them sitting together. Most people would make the false assumption, that the man sitting across from her, was her father. They had no idea that her dad was dead, having been killed a year ago by some overzealous hero. And if they’d known who her current companion really was, most people would have rushed out of the café as quickly as they could.
Maxine’s companion was a semi-retired supervillain known as Focus, who was not only her mentor, but also her sponsor to Whateley Academy. Focus was the one who paid for her tuition, and even gave her a decent stipend for spending money.
“How do you like your new school?” Focus asked politely. “Are you getting along with your roommate?”
“School is fine,” Maxine responded. “Very strange though. My roommate is…interesting.”
“Interesting good, or interesting bad?” Focus asked curiously.
Maxine smiled wryly before answering, “Both.”
Melissa was very good at keeping Maxine on her toes. If Maxine didn’t pay attention, she might end up the victim of another of Melissa’s practical jokes, such as when she’d found her bed short sheeted, or woke up in the middle of the night with a hand full of shaving cream.
“I suspect my roommate may be insane,” Maxine commented. “Then again, her role model is the new art teacher, a retired villain called the Imp.”
Focus suddenly looked more interested. “The Imp teaches at Whateley?”
“You know her?” Maxine asked.
“I’ve worked with her on several occasions,” Focus responded, looking faintly amused. “The Imp is one of the best in the business, and in spite of her normally eccentric behavior, she’s surprisingly professional while working.”
That surprised Maxine a little, because she had a hard time imagining the Imp being professional. Then again, she had a hard time imagining that woman as a teacher too.
Maxine nodded, and continued updating her sponsor on how things have been going at school. “I’ve decided to join one of the clubs on campus, and am currently a probationary member.”
“What club is that?” Focus asked.
“They’re called the Masterminds,” Maxine started, wondering how she could explain what the group was about.
However, Focus nodded in approval. “The Masterminds could be a useful club for you.”
“You’ve heard of them?” she asked in surprise.
Most of the students on campus didn’t really know about the Masterminds since the club didn’t officially exist. She certainly hadn’t expected someone from off campus, who’d never even attended Whateley, to know about them.
Focus took a sip of his drink, before explaining, “The last student that I sponsored at Whateley, was also a member. Her membership provided a number of much needed benefits, including practical experience in the business. I expect the same will be true for you.”
“I hope so,” Maxine admitted. “So far, I’m not really impressed by the other members.”
“I doubt if many of them have your experience prior to joining…Ironworks.” Focus said.
Maxine scowled at that. “I’m not using that codename at Whateley. I don’t want anyone there to know…”
“That you’ve already been active in the business,” Focus finished for her, before giving her a thoughtful look. “Establishing a second identity could be quite useful. I hope you that you’re able to continue that…Lodestone.”
Maxine smiled faintly. “Me too.”
Focus stared at her for several long seconds before musing, “You know that your father once worked for me, for over a year…”
“Yes,” Maxine agreed.
Focus had told her this before, during the meeting where he’d offered to take her under his wing, and to sponsor her at Whateley. Her dad had never mentioned Focus, but then again, he’d rarely mentioned any of his employers by name. He’d always just referred to his employer, whoever it was at the time, as ‘the boss’.
“Frank Granger had no special powers, gimmicks, or skills,” Focus said, talking to himself more than Maxine. “He was low-tier hired muscle, what many would call a minion or a henchman. However, he was hard-working, diligent, and professional. Those traits are hard to find in that profession, and I respected that about him.” His eyes went back to Maxine, and he continued, “You are smarter than your father, and much more powerful, but I still see much of him in you.”
“Thank you,” Maxine said a little awkwardly.
“You have a great deal of potential,” Focus told her with a serious expression. “You are intelligent, level-headed, and powerful, which makes for a potent combination. I want to see you reach that potential, which is why I have invested so heavily in your future.”
Maxine bowed her head. “I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me, Mister Focus.”
The truth was, that if it hadn’t been for Focus, Maxine had absolutely no idea what she’d be doing now, or in her future. When they first met, several months ago, she’d been focused on taking care of her father’s unfinished business, collecting on the debts owed to him, and dealing with his unresolved grudges. Focus was the one who made her realize that she needed to start thinking about her own future, and who’d offered her several opportunities she’d never considered.
“Why don’t we order,” Focus suggested, picking up the menu and only glancing at it before closing it back up. “We can continue our conversation while we eat.” Then he smiled faintly before adding, “I recommend the lobster roll. I became somewhat addicted to the lobster rolls here when I was meeting up with Michelle, the last girl I sponsored.”
Maxine nodded at that but continued looking through the menu. There were several interesting looking items, but she decided to go with Focus’ recommendation. After all, he was the one paying for the meal, along with her education, so it didn’t hurt to humor him.
Whateley Academy, Saturday Oct 27th, 2007
Doug Kelly grinned as he flew through the air, seven feet above the ground, while riding a massive sword as though it was a surfboard. The sword, which was seven feet long and a foot and a half wide, was the source of Doug’s codename of Broadsword.
“WOO HOO,” Doug yelled out, not only as an exclamation of how much fun he was having, but also to draw the attention of anyone nearby. After all, this was pretty damned impressive, and he wanted everyone to know it.
Unfortunately, it was Parents Day, and soon, the whole campus would be filled with family members. Doug knew that he wouldn’t be able to get away with a joyride then, which was why he’d taken advantage of the opportunity to do it now, when it was still early and nobody had yet shown up.
Doug knew that his window of opportunity was running out, so he started back towards Emerson, slowing down as he did so. It was one thing to speed around the campus borders at high speed, but he’d been warned several times not to do so where other students might be walking. If he accidentally hit someone with his sword, he could slice them in two. Fortunately, the one time he did have an accident like that, the person he’d run into had been a PK brick.
As Doug flew across the courtyard, he saw a couple cute girls in the distance so made a slight detour to bring himself closer to them. Coming to a stop, he gave them a cocky grin and announced, “Hello, ladies…”
“Go away, Doug,” Vulpine said, her three fox tails twitching behind her. “I don’t want to deal with you today.”
“Ditto,” Cauldron added a moment later, giving Doug a look of annoyance.
“Come on,” Doug said, hopping off his sword and then picking it up by the handle. He casually slung the massive blade over his shoulder, acting as though it weighed nothing, which it didn’t. He was a warper and could manipulate the gravity and momentum of himself or anything he touched, which was how he flew his sword around…and wielded it. “You don’t need to be like that.”
“Like what?” Cauldron asked. “Smart enough not to fall for some cheesy pickup lines?”
“That isn’t very hard,” Vulpine told Cauldron with a grin.
Cauldron chuckled as she suggested, “Maybe you should go hit on Darqueheart for a bit. She might appreciate the attention.”
“She’s…not my type,” Doug responded carefully.
Though he didn’t want to admit it, Darqueheart scared him a little. She had GSD that gave her pure black skin, yellow eyes, horns growing from her forehead, and a devil tail. All in all, she looked pretty intimidating. And on top of that, she had a reputation of being…prickly when it came to the ‘pretties’ around campus. And even though Doug wasn’t an exemplar, he considered himself handsome enough to earn her dislike.
“Well, I’d love to hang around and chat with you girls,” Doug said with a cocky grin, “but I’ve got to go get ready for my visitor.” He gave the girls a wink, then casually walked away with his sword still slung over his shoulder.
Once Doug reached Emerson, he put his sword away where it would be safe. While he liked the idea of showing it off to all the people who were coming to visit Whateley, he also knew that it would be awkward to carry around all day, even with his power.
A short time later, the first bus load of visitors arrived on campus. Doug was waiting near the parking area and watched it come on. He was disappointed that HIS visitor wasn’t on board, but he didn’t have to wait much longer. When the third bus arrived, a familiar figure stepped off.
“Hey Mark,” Doug called out and waved to his big brother.
Mark was average height, with an athletic build. He looked fairly plain, except for his red hair, which was the same shade as Doug’s. Mark saw him and waved before coming towards him.
“So, this is your school,” Mark said, looking around with interest. “I think Mom and Dad would have liked it…”
“Yeah,” Doug agreed, losing his smile at the reminder of their parents, who’d been gone for several years now. Mark was the one who’d practically raised him, and was the only family member he had left, besides their grandma, who wasn’t all there anymore.
“Come on, bro,” Mark said, putting his arm over Doug’s shoulder. “Why don’t you show me around. And while we’re at it, are there any cute teachers?”
Doug chuckled at that. “Not really. I mean, they’re teachers, so they’re all old…”
“Ah, too bad,” Mark told him with a grin. “I remember my first crush on a teacher. Mrs. Blevens had the biggest rack…” He held his hands out in front of his chest to indicate how big. “I swear, we had bets going on about whether or not she was hiding watermelons under her sweater…”
With a chuckle and a smirk, Doug said, “Then maybe I’ll introduce you to Mrs. Ryan. She teaches costuming class…”
Mark gave Doug an amused look and asked, “So, are you making yourself a costume?”
“Of course,” Doug responded, puffing himself up and bragging, “And its WAY more awesome than yours…”
“No way,” Mark protested in mock offense. “My costume is the absolute best. I designed it myself.”
“Exactly,” Doug pointed out with a smirk.
Doug led his brother across campus towards Emerson, so he could show off where he lived now. As they walked, he pointed out the buildings and even a few of his classmates.
“That’s Knockoff,” Doug announced, pointing to one girl, who was standing beside a woman who looked like an older version of her. In a conspiratorial voice, he added, “Her mom is some kind of villain…”
“I don’t see many villains who look like that,” Mark commented, giving the mother an appreciative look. Then, as he looked around at some of the other students, he added, “Or kids… Damn, I don’t remember the girls being quite so well built when I was in school…”
“There are a lot of exemplars around,” Doug responded with a shrug. “I’m really popular among them, you know.”
“Of course you are,” Mark responded, giving Doug a noogie. “You’re my little bro. Of course the girls like you. Not as much as they like me, but enough…”
Doug rolled his eyes. “And when was the last time you had a date?”
“I’m married to my work,” Mark told him in a cheerful tone. “Yep, the old ball and chain. And she’s always got a headache…”
Doug gave his brother an odd look before saying, “You are so weird.”
“So,” Mark asked just as they reached Emerson. “You still have that huge-ass pick sticker?”
“Of course,” Doug told him proudly. “My sword is my trademark.”
Mark just gave an obviously fake cough. “Overcompensation.”
Doug glared at his brother. “You’re just jealous because I’ve got a wicked sword, an awesome costume, and I even have a better codename than you.”
“In your dreams,” Mark said, grinning as he did so. “I am the mysterious…the awesome…the incredible…”
“Blowhard,” Doug finished for him, earning a glare from his older brother. Then before Mark could respond, he asked, “So, are you still going to be around tomorrow? If so, we can go to Boston…”
“Afraid not,” Mark said apologetically, though a moment later he grinned cheerfully. “I’ve been doing a bit of fishing, and I think I’ve hooked a big one. Now, I just need to get back tomorrow and real him in…” He held his hands wide, as if showing how big the metaphorical fish was.
Doug’s eyes widened with excitement. “You’re taking down a supervillain?”
“Okay,” Mark admitted. “Ya caught me.” He held his hands together, only a few inches apart this time. “It’s not a supervillain per-se…” At Doug’s look, he shrugged. “Okay, he’s only a little fish. He’s a mobbed-up money-launderer, but if I can reel him, I can use him as bait to get some bigger fish…”
“Oh,” Doug said, feeling much less impressed by that.
“As much as I’d love to stay and hang with ya bro,” Mark told him, “I do have to get back soon.” He gave Doug a wink and cheerfully added, “Someone has to protect Buffalo from these evil art dealers.”
“Art dealer?” Doug responded skeptically. “Really?”
Mark shrugged. “It sounded better in my head.”
“LAME,” Doug told him. “You might as well just stay here and chase after our art teacher…”
“Naw,” Mark responded dismissively. “You already told me the teachers here aren’t all that hot, so it wouldn’t be worth my time.”
They stopped just outside of Emerson, and Doug pointed to one of the windows. “That’s my room, right there…”
“Fairly easy to sneak out of,” Mark commented with an amused. “A pretty short jump…especially with your powers. Not a bad setup…”
A moment later, Doug suddenly noticed his roommate Kyle, AKA Doorstop, coming walking to the cottage with two hot chicks. They were both older than him, and were probably exemplars, which surprised Doug a little since Doorstop was an Underdog, and not exactly good with the ladies.
“Hey, Doug,” Kyle greeted him with a self-conscious smile. He gestured towards the woman, saying, “This is my sister Bekka, and my mom…”
Doug’s eyes went wide as he looked over the two women. Bekka looked like she was about twenty, with long brunette hair, while Kyle’s mom only looked to be about ten years older.
“Hi,” Doug said with a friendly smile.
Before Doug could say anything, Mark flashed them a cocky grin and announced, “Hello ladies…”
“Oh my God,” Kyle exclaimed, giving a worried look to his mom and sister, both of whom seemed vaguely amused. “So THAT is where you get it from…”
“So, did it hurt when you fell from Heaven?” Mark asked Kyle’s mom, while Bekka laughed and Kyle just looked mortified.
Doug just stared at his brother for a moment, not sure whether he should take notes or not. If nothing else, Parents Day wasn’t going to be boring, especially with his brother around.