“So?” Raina asked softly, barely awake. “How fucked are we?”
I’d just gotten off the phone with Joey, Malcolm, and Sammy. Things weren’t looking good, but Shay was handling things. If anyone could save the world, it was her.
“It could be worse,” I answered, laying next to her in bed. “Shay is fighting Edwin, and once she’s beaten him, she’s going to get Takato to get rid of all the demons.”
“You sound so sure she can do those things.”
“She’s my big sister,” I replied, brushing Raina’s platinum blonde hair out of her face. “She can do anything.”
“Right,” Raina said, still in disbelief. “What about us? If one demon comes in here, neither of us is in any condition to fight or run.”
She’d been pretty in and out during the phone call, so she must have missed the part where I was talking to Sammy.
“Your boyfriend is on his way,” I said. “I’m not sure what he’s gonna do, but he claims to have a way to fight against demons.”
Raina smiled as much her current pain level would allow.
“He probably doesn’t,” she said. “But I know that he’ll do whatever he can to protect me.” She inched over to me, putting her body against mine. “Just like you.”
“Yeah,” I said, not completely sure how to respond to that.
“If we make it through this,” Raina started. “And next month, Smog, which holy fuck he’s still a thing. I want you to try and become better friends with Sammy.”
I turned my head on the pillow so that Raina and I were looking into each other’s eyes.
“I don’t know Ray. We’re really different.”
“Not really,” Raina countered. “If anything, you have more in common with him than with me. You’re both from middle class families, neither of you is a exactly genius, and well, you were both able to find the good in me.”
Raina’s words weren’t what were speaking to me. It was her face. She wasn’t sad or confident. Prideful or stressed.
She looked defeated.
“Yeah,” she answered, closing her eyes to rest.
“Do you want to die?”
“What?!” she screamed, her eyes popping open. “What kind of question is that?”
“Do you want to die?” I repeated.
“Carter, where are you getting this idea?”
Struggling, I sat up straight.
“Just now, you got me thinking about what happened today. You came here to apologize to Takato, but on the way, you were attacked by a vampire. Even with the condition you were in, you knew you had no choice but to fight. I get that. Once you were here though? Especially after you saw what had happened to Badrah? Why did you look for someone who could easily kill you? And just now, the way you said Smog’s name? It’s like you can’t wait for him to end us.”
Raina’s eyes were closed again, but tears were coming out.
“Do you want to die?”
“Oh Raina,” I said, wrapping my arms around her.
“You…you and Sammy,” she started, sniffling. “And Malcolm. And Olivia. Ally. Everyone. You guys…have stuck by knowing everything I’ve done. And you’ve all given me reasons why I have to keep living…BUT I CAN’T!” Her eyes, red and puffy, opened wide. “Every night, I go online, and read about all the people that I killed when I was Queen. The innocents. And whenever I fight a villain or pose for a picture with that fucking plastic smile I wear, I don’t really feel better about myself. I just question what authority I have to be passing judgement over people who are committing lesser sins than I did.”
She shook her head.
“I can’t keep doing this Carter.”
With all the muscle in my arms, I hugged her tightly.
“What exactly do you want to stop?” I asked.
“I can’t keep being a hero. I feel like a phony. I can’t keep being a crime lord. I’ve been acting all casual, but I’m not like Malcolm and Olivia. Killing bad people is just as heavy on my heart as killing innocents. And living…”
She stopped talking, breaking out into tears, her heartbeat getting far too fast.
“Raina.” She didn’t respond. “Raina please listen to me!” I shouted. “You have to let me help you or you’re going to have a heart attack!”
Rolling up into a ball, she kept on balling. Her face was getting as red as a tomato, and putting my hand over her chest, her heartbeat was getting even faster.
She was shaking. Raina really was having a heart attack.
I’d screwed up. I thought it’d be good to get her focused on a different issue in the middle of the apocalypse, but I’d just set her off.
I was never going to let Raina die. And she most certainly wasn’t going to die because of my stupidity.
My hands started sparking. While my body had been pretty badly beaten, I hadn’t used up much juice. So Raina dying? Definitely enough to get me going.
“This didn’t work when I was fighting any super villains. It didn’t work as part of my original plan against China.” I stared down hard at Raina. “If this is ever going to work, work now!”
With that, I slammed my hands down over her heart, praying that the tasing effect would slow her heart rate.
Her body just kept on shaking, her eyes moving just as rapidly.
“Work,” I whispered, slamming down my hands again.
“Work you stupid powers! Work!!! Save her!!!”
A chill ran up my spine, colder than the most freezing winter.
The powers work, when I want them too, I heard a woman’s voice say with no emotion.
“You know what?! I don’t know if what I just heard was real or not. Or if this is some more mystical bull crap! I just want her to live!”
Stupid idea or not, I clenched my charged up fist and punched her chest as hard as I could.
Her death will remove a tie to this world.
“Shut up!” I screamed, crying as hard as Raina was before her heart attack started. “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!!”
The lightning around my hands turned white. The white lightning had enough power to hurt Olivia and at least annoy Smog. If I wasn’t careful, it could kill her.
Strike her down.
I stopped sobbing and sighed.
Grabbing Raina, I got off the bed and laid her down on the carpeted floor. Standing over her, I began firing lightning down at her chest.
“I’m not killing her! I’m saving her! Whether you like it or not!”
“Please Raina,” I whispered. “We need each other.”
My eyes glowed, and my lightning ceased as Raina jumped up.
“Raina!” I exclaimed, crouching down and hugging her.
You will regret this.
“Bite me,” I said almost silently.
“What just happened?” she asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said stroking her hair. “It’s okay.”
Unpredictably, she grinned at me.
“Are you kidding?” she asked, not an ounce of pain in her voice. “I feel all better! Physically at least.”
I let go of her and we sat back up on the bed.
“You were having a heart attack. I think. I tried slowing down your heart by tasing you, but I guess it ended up healing you instead.”
Raina just laughed.
“Dude, that is so not how defibrillators work.”
“Oh,” I responded, putting my hand over her’s. “Look, you don’t want to be Fencer anymore? Fine by me. Don’t want to be a crime lord? Even better. But if you were gone completely, I’d miss you. And I know a lot of other people would too. You’re doing good just by being yourself.”
Raina pulled away from me.
She spoke, but without all of the damage to her body, she was able to speak a lot more calmly.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. I’ll figure it out once the apocalypse is stopped.
Her saying that made me smile.
“You think we’re gonna make it through this? Didn’t know you had that much faith in Shay.”
“No,” she answered, shaking her head. “But you have faith in her. And I believe in you.”
Much as I would have liked to savor that moment, it was ended by a demon which looked like a bigger version of the one Raina and I had fought but bigger, and being ridden by Sammy.
“Hey beautiful!” Sammy shouted, being shaken back and forth by the demon. “How’s it going?”
Sammy front flipped off of the demon’s back, and landed next to Raina and I.
“Perfect now that you’re here,” Raina answered, wrapping her arms around Sammy, making out with him.
“Uh, guys, you know there’s a demon in front of us, right?”
“Don’t worry dork,” Sammy said, breaking up the kiss. “I’ve got this.”
Sammy stepped forward, and I put on hand on his shoulder.
“Dude,” I said. “You juggle things.”
“Exactly,” he said brushing me off. Sammy walked until he was right in front of the huge demon. “Behold my trump card!”
Growling, blue veins became exposed all over Sammy body from his legs to his face.
“What the Hell is he doing?” I asked.
“I dunno,” Raina answered. “But I like it.”
“Die!” Sammy shouted, shooting his arms up, somehow causing the demon’s head to fly off, the body falling to the floor.
“How the fuck?” I asked, my voice cracking.
Sammy was breathing heavily.
“My power is that I can juggle anything. Never said I could only juggle things I was holding. I just threw the thing’s head off.”
“That is so hot,” Raina said, making out with Sammy some more.
“I’d imagine so,” a familiar voice said out of nowhere. “A portal to Hell opening would raise the temperature.”
“Who the fuck are you?!” Sammy shouted in shock, raising his fists.
“Hey there,” the ginger said, taking a large bite of his gigantic burrito. “I’m Gordon.”
“I remember you,” I said, walking up to him. “You broke up my fight with Edwin at the gelato bar.”
Much like last time, Gordon wasn’t dressed ordinarily. This time, he was wearing a white tank top, a red leather jacket, green leather pants, and blue cowboy boots.
“Congratulations Carter, you know someone who gets fashion less than you do,” Raina commented.
While it was mean, I was happy that she was feeling well enough to make a joke.
“You gonna tell me what your deal is this time?” I asked, not in the mood for any more mysteries.
“I don’t see why not,” he answered, swallowing the rest of the burrito without chewing it. “Man, food is good!”
“Talk!” Sammy exclaimed.
“Okay, okay, no need to get mad, brah.” Gordon put his hands in his pockets. “I’m a servant of Smog.”
Without a second thought, a large blast came out of my stomach, hitting Gordon and sending him flying back.
“That’s all I needed to hear,” I said. “A friend of Smog is an enemy of mine.”
“Maybe in the long run,” he responded, standing up without a hint of pain in his voice. “But neither my master or I intend on seeing humanity wiped out.”
“Why?” Raina asked, jumping in. “He’s a demon, and his hench-wench is a fucking vampire. Wouldn’t they be happy to see humanity dead?”
“Master Smog’s plans are much bigger than humanity,” Gordon answered.
“So, okay, a vampire and a super powerful demon,” Sammy said. “The Hell are you?”
Before he could answer, two demons resembling tigers jumped into the house. They were black with red stripes, had blood dripping down their faces, and what appeared to be organs splattered all of their bodies.
Sammy prepared to pop their heads off, but as he took his stance, the two beasts leaped at him.
However, he was protected by a large golden cross appearing in front of him, knocking the demon tigers back. Gordon then appeared behind them, and fired a large white blast at them out of his hand, disintegrating them instantly.
As the three of our jaws hit the floor, Gordon answered Sammy’s question.
“I’m an angel.”