“You know in civilized society, hitting someone over the head with a club isn’t the best way to get their attention?” I rhetorically asked, getting up off the floor.
Sammy snickered, continuing to stare at me.
“Yeah, well, I have a habit of hitting people who piss me off.”
There were so many jokes I could make about him being like a neanderthal, but I decided to just let it drop. These were people honestly trying to make the world a better place, if also making a buck along the way. They weren’t among those it was appropriate to be a bitch to.
“I told you I’m sorry about acting like a bitch. I wasn’t lying.”
He shook his head, leaning against the counter.
“Sorry. Not buying it.”
I sighed and walked slightly closer to him.
“What do I have to do to convince you I want to be your friend?” I asked.
“Friends? Seriously? You don’t get it.”
“Get what?” I asked, unsure what he meant.
Standing straight, and getting up in my face again, he said “I don’t even trust you.”
I smirked, deciding to be just a bit playful. Hopefully it didn’t come off as bitchy.
“You sure seemed to trust me when you wanted to get in my pants.”
Sammy snarled and turned his back to me.
“Sorry, too much,” I apologized. “Why don’t you trust me though? Your friends do.”
Keeping his head facing away from me, he said, “My friends are idiots. I’m no Eensteen…”
Einstein, I thought to myself, wanting to correct him.
“…but I’ve got common sense.”
“You’re saying Hope doesn’t?” I asked, “She seems to have a good head on her, if not the best taste in fashion.”
Damn it. That last bit just sort of slipped out.
“She knows I don’t trust you,” he said, ignoring my dig at his sister. “But based on her fight with you, she’s confident she can take you out if you turn on us.”
Huh. So that’s why she seemed so calm around me. She thought I was just a pussy compared to her. Admittedly, I didn’t fair the best against her, but it wasn’t a curb stomp.
“So what to you is common sense?” I asked, putting my arms up. “What is apparently so obvious that you say it’s impossible for you to trust me.”
Sammy returned to facing me.
“You’re not like us.”
“Oh come on. Is that it? Seriously, I was just being a cunt. I’m not racist, I’m not homophobic, I don’t have anything against people who don’t have powers, and while I admit to having servants, I’m certainly not in favor of slavery.”
I was pretty sure I’d covered all the ground I had laid out during out previous encounter.
Repeatedly stabbing his finger at his chest, he started ranting.
“You don’t get it! The four of us have had to struggle our entire lives! Dealing with shit every damn day! You? You’re the poster girl for white fuckin privilege! You haven’t worked a day in your life, and you most certainly haven’t gone through any struggles of your own. For us, becoming villains has been the first truly enjoyable thing in our lives. But for you, I’d bet becoming a villain was just something you decided to do on a whim because you got bored riding horses or eating lobster, or whatever the fuck rich people do! So get out of here, and stay the fuck away!”
A collage of thoughts made their way through my head.
As my eyes watered, I cuffed my mouth and nose in my hands.
Damn. Why had I been crying so much lately?
“What? I touch a nerve?” Sammy asked.
Without thinking, I ran forward a few steps and roundhouse kicked him in the stomach, knocking him back against the wall.
Sammy coughed, scowling, and said, “I think you’ve forgotten which of us is armed.”
He raised is metal juggling pins and charged at me.
This had gone horribly wrong. If we fought now, this would all be over before it began. I had to stop this quickly.
“Those are fancy toys,” I said, pulling out my new weapon from my pocket.
Ducking under his swinging arms, I twisted the golden lipstick case I’d just pulled out.
A long, thin blade popped out, along with a foil guard. I sprinted around Sammy, and I quickly had the tip of my foil against the back of his neck.
“Can we get back to talking now?” I asked.
“You keep a fucking sword in a lipstick tube? Who does that?” He asked in response, not bothering to answer my question.
“Yeah, but its pretty new. The old guy who shot Exposure helped me build it. 95% anit-Demigod metal, but still light as a feather. And it has just enough impurities that I can still teleport it around. Pretty sick, right?”
Sammy lowered his arms and sighed.
“Yeah, it’s pretty dope. Now would you please get it away from my neck?!”
I nodded, clicking a button on the blade’s grip, sealing it back up in the lipstick tube.
Once my sword had been put away, Sammy took a seat in the chair I’d seen him sleeping in earlier.
“So why’d you attack me?” he asked. “Not used to getting a taste of the truth.”
Getting ready to answer his question, I took a seat on the register counter. I threw out all of my clothes after wearing them once, but with how filthy my pants must have just gotten, they would have to get burned later.
“I kicked you because you were wrong. My life hasn’t been perfect.”
“Oh really? He said, finally smiling. “What could someone like you have possibly gone through?”
Well, here went nothing. Carter, Olivia, Ally…none of them even knew what I was about to tell Sammy.
Before I even started talking, the water in my eyes started running down my cheeks.
“For the first ten years of my life, yeah, everything was pretty much perfect. I lived in a mansion with my parents, I was popular, didn’t have a care in the world.”
“Then, one day…” I swallowed hard. “My mom was murdered.”
“It was. Um. She was driving home from a charity banquet, and yeah…” I rapidly nodded my head up and down. “…she drove herself. She liked doing things herself. Wasn’t a fan of being waited on. She didn’t exactly grow up with a lot of money.” I couldn’t do this looking Sammy in the eye, so I dropped my face to the floor.
“Anyway, she was driving home through what, at the time, was an ungentrified neighborhood.”
“A what?” Sammy asked.
“It, uh, a place that’s really run down and has lots of poor people living in it.”
“Ah,” he responded cynically.
“So, her car ran out of gas. She went out to go look for a gas station, but before she could reach one, she was stabbed in the back, and died.”
“Sorry bout that,” Sammy said.
“The police caught the man responsible. It was some hobo who wanted her jewelry.” I looked up at Sammy. “She didn’t even like wearing flashy jewelry. She was only wearing it so she didn’t look out of place at the banquet she’d been attending!”
My tearing turned into full on sobbing.
“If anyone didn’t deserve to die, it was her. She was amazing. She was kind, beautiful, and unbelievably generous. She treated everyone equally. Even though she didn’t like the idea of having servants, she still hired as many as she could just so she could provide jobs for the less fortunate.” I scowled. “And what came from that? A knife in the back! Yeah, it turned out that the hobo was actually the brother of my mom’s laundress. Yeah, she’d asked her to put the directions to the party and the return route in her car’s navigation system. She got her stuck in that neighborhood, ripe for her brother to pick off and take her valuables.”
My eyes stayed clenched for a few seconds before I opened them as wide as I could and screamed.
“THAT’S WHY I HATE THE POOR!”
Everything I’d been saying was basically just a stream of consciousness. I’d bottled all of that up for so long. I’d fucked up. It was pretty obvious Sammy’s next course of action would be to try and kill me or just tell me to get out.
“What was her name?” Sammy asked.
“What?” I asked, surprised he didn’t at least sound angry.
“What was your mom’s name?”
“Oh.” Where was he going with this? “Her name was Gabrielle.”
“Nice name,” he said, continuing to be calm. “Sounds like a good woman.” A few second of silence later, he said, “There’s more to your story. More you need to get out. Spill.”
I got up to my feet and asked, “How could you tell?”
Asking him why he wasn’t mad right now wasn’t the best course of action, so I was just going along with him.
“Cause I had a bunch of shit locked up tight for a long time too. Then once I let it all out to Hope, I felt better. Tell me what happened after Gabrielle was killed.”
Before I spoke, I took a deep breath and wiped away the tears on my face.
“Not one year after my mom was dead, my father married a total bitch named Stella. After that, my father pretty much stopped paying attention to me, when I did see Stella she would verbally abuse me, and…”
“And I think her awfulness may have rubbed off on me, which is why I’ve been a total bitch at my school, enjoying making other people’s lives miserable.”
Sammy got up and stretched his arms. He walked over to me and put a hand on my shoulder.
“Cause you just spilled yo heart to me. I trust you now, because I get you.”
My face turned from expressing sadness to anger.
“This was your plan?! This is what you were pushing me towards all along?!”
“Actually it was Hope’s plan. She knew I didn’t trust you so she gave me the idea.”
His entire demeanor had changed to how it was in our previous encounters. Gone was the rightfully pissed, serious Sammy, and back was the jolly, dumber than Carter, Juggler.
“Fine,” I said, joining in with his smiling. “You trust me. But I don’t think I trust you.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Oh I am,” I said. “Now why don’t you tell me about your hard life?” I asked, saying the last two words sarcastically.
“You wanna play it that way? Fine. Here the short version. Hope and I were military brats. And boy did our dad hate us.”
“Why? I thought any parent would love having two kids with powers.”
“You’d think so. But, dear old dad was a dick cunt who beat Hope for being a girl, and who beat me for being, and this is a quote, “The most worthless man alive.”
“Where was your mom?” I asked.
“Right up there with yours,” he answered, kissing two of his fingers, tapping them against the cross around his neck, and raising them up. “Anyway, one night, dad tried to kill me. Hope stopped him, and the two of us ran away. It wasn’t long before we met up with Harrison and Casey.”
“And what’s their story?”
“That’s for them to tell you.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “So since you’re on board with me leading the team, do you wanna head downstairs?”
“Not yet,” he answered. “Casey is probably still role playing and I want to make sure he gets down the stairs alright when he comes back.”
“OK,” I said. “So what do you wanna do while we wait?” I asked giving him a coy smile.
He was clearly a bit surprised that I wanted to stay with him, but he didn’t look like he minded.
“Well, why don’t you tell me how the Hell that sword of yours works?”
“I’m actually not too sure,” I responded. “I just bought the materials to make it. If you wanna know how it works, you can ask Malcolm when you two get formally introduced.”
“Can you promise he won’t shoot me?”
“It’s Malcolm so I can’t guarantee that for anyone.”
We both laughed a little at that.
“So if all of that hating me stuff was just an act, does that mean you still think I’m hot?”
Sammy put his hands on his hips, looking very confident about where this conversation was heading.
“Why yes!” he exclaimed. “Any thoughts on…” he dramatically posed, his hands presenting his face. “ALL THIS!”
“Not my type,” I said simply. “I mean seriously. I could never date someone who was dumb enough to think “The Troupe Experience” was a good name for a super villain team.”
“That name is cool, damn it! It fits in Harrison’s love of his favorite bands, and Casey and my love of musical theater and the circus.”
“Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m changing the name before it starts sticking.”
“Oh really? And what name do you have that you think sounds bet…”
“The Queen’s Guard.”
“Oh…That’s actually pretty good.”
“Of course it is,” I said, vainly brushing my long hair back.
Sammy put his clubs down, and walked behind the counter I was standing in front of and asked, “So do you really have a plan to take over the city?”
“Yup,” I said. “And its perfect. But you’ll have to wait for everyone else to hear it.”
“Fair enough,” he said, as from behind me, he wrapped his arms around me.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked harshly.
“Come on, you’re really not feeling it?”
“You do know I have a sword on me, right?”
“Very funny,” he said, not afraid, but also clearly not intending to try and rape me. “Look, you wanna know what I got out of everything you told me?”
“What?” I asked, actually kind of curious.
“I think that for the past four years, all you’ve had are people who want you to be something else. Parents who wish you were non existent, bitchy high school girls who want you to be equally bitchy, and while I’m sure they’re great, your superhero buds want you to be some kind of angel. But me? I like who you really are.”
“And who is that?”
“A kind, but snarky, no nonsense girl who is awesome, and also is ruthless and ambitious enough to take over a city.” He put his face close to mine. “Am I close?”
It was in that moment that I realized I really had no idea who I was. Was I the good person Carter believed I was? The monster Angie thought of me as? A mass murderer? A random girl with a heightened sense of importance?
It was time for me to stop basing who I was off of those around me. It was time to do some experimenting, damn what anyone else thought.”
I grabbed Sammy’s head and started making out with him.
He was actually really good. There was the old saying that once you went black, you never went back. I wasn’t sure if that only applied to sex, but damn. He was a way better kisser than Daniel, or any of my other ex boyfriends.
After a minute, we pulled away from each other, Sammy having a big grin on his face.
“I don’t know if I’m any of things. But its about time I found out who I really am.”
Sammy just kept smiling, and I couldn’t help but smile back.
He really was looking great, and even though he’d tricked me, he still seemed like a good guy. If I had to describe what it was that was attracting me to him, it was probably that he reminded me of a more suave and down to Earth Carter.
And that was a description neither of them would EVER here.
“I think this is gonna work,” Sammy said.
“So do I.”
Just then, a man in full on Nazi garb came through the door…
…and my heart sank.
“What a touching moment!” he said. “Hope I’m not intruding.”
My whole body shaking, all I was able to do was say one word.