My home had just been broken into. I’d been shot at, and I’d had the crap beaten out of me. I’d pushed my powers to their limits, and I had the crazy guy behind all this unconscious at my feet.
So why was I worried about what this girl was thinking of my battered and bleeding face?
“Hey,” I responded to her. “Sorry, but my head just got thrashed. What was your name again?”
She let out a guilty chuckle. “I’m Eve. And I’m also really sorry.”
I wiped blood off my brow. “Sorry? What are you sorry for? This guy just shot up my place so I’m really hoping I can get an apology from him before I turn him over to the police, and I just realized you have no idea what I’m talking about.”
She let out another guilty laugh. The further she got into her sentence, the quieter she became. “Actually, I do know what you’re talking about, because it’s kind of my fault he came after you.”
My disbelief caused me to respond in a deadpan tone. “Come again.”
“I think this will explain it.”
Eve opened up her purse and grabbed her phone. It was a Pandaphone X4, something I’d really been wanting. Since it had created the smart phone, Panda corp. had constantly been making huge steps forward in the industry. Its primary new feature was that it had a sensor which could supposedly tell you if you had the potential to get powers, and if so, what your power would be. I’d never developed normal powers, so it would be awesome to find out if I could maybe get even more powerful.
The sensor only worked once though. This restriction was probably included on purpose so people wouldn’t just share it with their friends; everyone would have to buy their own.
After hearing the phone announcement in an oddly familiar voice that Eve’s voice messages were coming, my attacker’s voice came out of her phone. There was a lot of wind in the background.
“Hey Eve. You’re not gonna believe this but that PI you told me about is actually Lightning Bee. It’s actually pretty obvious so you must never have seen Lightning Bee on TV or anything. Don’t worry though. My sisters and I are heading over there right now, and we’re gonna kill the fuck out of that so called hero. Maybe we can get some lunch afterward. Let me know. Bye.”
There was a beep, and the phone went to the next message.
“Hey Eve. It’s Malcolm again. Look, I was pretty hung over when I left that last message. I used some of the money you lent me to get some coffee and I’m good now. Carolina told me that I mentioned something about killing Lightning Bee in my last message. You know I’m just a normal guy who works at an auto shop, and I don’t know what I was talking about. So, with that settled, yeah, let me know if you want to get some food. Bye.”
“Okay, I lied, I’m sorry. I was having a hard time not telling you the truth, and that combined with Erica telling me in a shitload of ways that I need to be honest, well, I need to come clean.” He paused. “I don’t just work at an auto shop. I’m also a special agent for the United States government, sent to find and kill Lightning Bee, a great menace to national security. Yeah, the President himself gave me this job. How does noon sound for lunch?”
A third beep.
“Woo! Carolina, Erica and I are standing right outside Lightning Bee’s apartment building. We are gonna kick all kinds of ass. Wish me luck. Wooooooo!”
The still familiar voice said that there were no more messages.
“Did you get that?” Eve asked nervously.
My jaw had dropped during the third message and it remained in that position.
“Actually, I think I’m even more confused now than I was when he randomly busted down my door.”
“Crap. I was really hoping you would know what he was talking about. I was also hoping that he was just really drunk and making stuff up, but I came here to make sure that you were okay, just in case.”
I recomposed myself and took a few moments to try and figure out what to say next.
“Alright, first I need to know, how did both of you know where I live?”
“I work for Panda corp. We know where everyone lives.”
The way she said that, I was actually a little scared.
“Sorry,” she said, giggling awkwardly. “Just trying to inject some dark humor. No, I, and probably Malcolm, both saw your address on your website. I know I really shouldn’t be criticizing you for anything since I’m the one who told him about you in the first place, but it’s really not a good idea for a superhero to be telling the world where he lives.”
One part of that stuck out like a bad shape shifter amongst the Guardianship.
“You told him I was Lightning Bee!? I told you that in confidence.”
Eve pursed her lips and raised a finger.
“No, I didn’t tell him you were Lightning Bee. He told me that he was in town looking for someone, and so, since you made a good first impression, I recommended you as a private investigator for him. I didn’t realize he’d have some ability that the rest of the world lacked which allowed him to notice that you and Lightning Bee were one in the same.” She exhaled. “I’m really sorry.”
Many thoughts and emotions were going through my head. I was still in pain from the beating Malcolm had given me and that was fueling my rage toward both him and Eve. I was also feeling guilty for my anger toward Eve since she didn’t consciously do anything wrong; she was just trying to help me. I felt stupid for thinking that giving my address to the world wouldn’t come back to bite me. I was also nervous, as I was wondering how many other people could see through my costume.
I ultimately said, in a giddy way…
“I made a good first impression, huh?”
Nice one, Carter. Nice one.
She giggled in a natural way and there was a sense of warmth in her.
“Yeah, you were pretty cute.” I smiled as she said that. “But you’re not my type.” My smile went away.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I’d never managed to get a girl to go out with me and I really wanted to know what my problem was. For God’s sake, I was a superhero. What more could someone want in a guy?
“Well,” Eve said. She widened her eyes and popped her lips.
It took me a few seconds to realize what she meant.
“Oh. That’s cool.” I tried to think of something to say. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
She smiled. “Not currently, but I’m looking.”
“Good. That’s uh…that’s good.”
We stood in silence for a minute.
I broke it by asking, “So how the fuck do you know this guy?”
She leaned to the side, peeking into my apartment.
“Can we go inside before I answer that?” Eve asked. “I’ve been trying not to say anything but your head is really bleeding. If you have some gauze, I’ll try to stop it.”
I rubbed my head again, causing it more pain, and exhaled deeply.
“I think we might have some gauze, but that depends on one thing. What’s gauze?”
She giggled again. She was probably thinking I was stupid but at least I was able to make her laugh. Sure she wasn’t a potential girlfriend, but she still seemed cool.
Eve then gently put her hand on my back and took us into my place. We sat down on my bullet hole ridden couch, and she said, “You said that we might have some gauze. Does someone else live here?”
She got up, and I pointed her in the direction of the bathroom, where Shay kept all our medical stuff. While she was still in earshot, I answered, “Yeah, my sister and I live here.”
“Cool,” she said, walking into the bathroom. Speaking loud enough so I could hear her, she exclaimed, “Aw, a Darling toothbrush. I may not like superheroes too much, but that’s still cute. Is it your little sister’s?”
If I didn’t know that it would hurt like Hell, I would have slapped myself in the face.
“Actually, the toothbrush is mine.”
“And just so you know, my sister’s name is Shay. She’s actually a few years older than I am, and she’s a member of the Bluejay police department.”
That last part probably wasn’t information that Shay wanted going around to people she didn’t even know, but I was really proud of her. I liked bragging about her.
“Well maybe I’ll get to meet her sometime.”
“Maybe. But first, I ask again, how do you know the crazy guy laying unconscious outside my apartment?”
Eve walked out of the bathroom holding a white fabric which I assumed was gauze.
“Okay, may as well get this over with. I saw him hanging out in an alley and was impressed by his amazing 1970 Fierce Scrambler. Seriously, that thing was a beauty. Its 190 rear-wheel horsepower, its magnesium monocoque chassis, titanium fasteners, and carbon-fiber tail section. Not to mention the fact that it just looks awesome.”
“Eve,” I interrupted. “Please just tell me what happened.”
“Sorry. I just really like cool bikes,” she said, wrapping the gauze around my head. “So, as I was saying, I was dazzled by his bike, and wanting to ride it, I bought him a drink so we could talk, and so I could see if he was a good guy. He proved he was, and so we spent the night driving around and hanging out.” I was nodding along as she explained this to me. “And at no point during the night did I ever suspect that he was a potential killer. He did talk a lot about his sisters though, like, a lot, and he even mentioned that they were coming here too in his message.”
“Well, I haven’t seen any girls all day except for you and Shay so I’m just as clueless as you, there.”
Eve finished bandaging up my head. It didn’t feel any better, but at least it would probably stop the bleeding. I think.
“Thanks,” I said. “And really, no hard feelings.”
She nodded, smiling.
“So should I call Shay, or do you wanna introduce yourself by turning over this guy?” I asked.
“Actually, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t get the cops involved, and you just let me take him back to my place.”
“But he tried to kill me. He belongs in jail.”
“Maybe that’s what the world says, but when you grow up with a dad who was a drunken bastard of a superhero, you come to learn that the law really isn’t that important. Sure, evil people belong in jail, or dead, but that’s a whole other story.”
I was taken aback by the fact that she thought anyone deserved to die, but I decided to just press my case.
“I see what you’re saying, but again, he tried to freaking murder me.”
“Look, I’ll talk to Malcolm, and find out why he tried to do that. If he had a good reason, I’ll tell him what a good guy you are and maybe you two could make up. If he really is just a psycho, I’ll tell him some lie to get away, and then call the cops. Sound good?”
Eve was not turning out to be the person I initially thought she was. I thought she was just a hot, cool girl, who had shared her hatred of her dad with me. Instead, she seemed a bit amoral, and I couldn’t really understand where she was coming from.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
I fully understood her motivations upon her answering, “He’s my friend.”
That was something I couldn’t argue with. Not counting Shay, I’d never had any real friends, but I’d always longed for them. Almost burning down my middle school had pretty much killed off any chance of me having friends until college. And when I’d attended Bluejay Community College, I’d only ended up going there for half a semester before dropping out.
But I knew how I felt about Shay. Even if she did something terrible, I’d stand by her.
“OK,” I said calmly. “But you should probably wait until he wakes up to try and get him to your place. Let’s get him on the couch. Then you can watch some TV and I can go pass out.”
“Fine by me.”
My phone rang.
“Hey Shay. What’s up?”
“No. No. You can’t be serious…but…OK. I’ll get changed and head over there. But after I tell you what I’ve already been through today, you are so getting me a bubble tea.” I hung up.
“What was that about?” Eve asked.
“There’s a hostage situation at Cresting Prep. Apparently, along with a bunch of armed mercenaries, Queen is there. I have to go save those kids.”
“You’re not in any shape for fighting right now.”
“Maybe not, but it’s what I’ve got to do.”
She smiled again. “You know, if my dad had had that kind of mentality, I probably wouldn’t hate him so much.”
I acknowledged her remark, grabbed my costume, and prepared to head out.