I…was having a rough day.
“Here you go,” Shay said, handing me a glass of gingerale.
“Thanks Babe,” I said, taking the clear glass, sitting back on the Myers’ couch.
My stomach was strong as steel. I could handle massive amount of alcohol, the spiciest curry you could imagine, and I laughed at people who vomited upon seeing something gross.
As it turned out though, Carter had finally gotten the ability to add a tasing effect to his lightning. Not that he realize, ord that at the time he zapped me.
Carter had zapped me before. We’d fought. I’d have won had Erica not refused to shoot him, for what had turned out to be good reasons.
But this time?
I grabbed him, and he took me down. Wasn’t even a tussle. He’d made me look like a chump.
Chugging back my glass, my eyes didn’t leave Carter’s, the kid sitting across from me. Shay sat down next to me as I drank, and Joey was standing up, pacing back and forth.
It was bad enough that I’d gotten knocked out by the kid in one hit, but apparently, Shay brought me back here over her shoulder. I had no delusions about me being stronger and a better fighter than her, but it was still humiliating.
“So Shay bra, what’s our next move?” Joey asked.
I snorted, pretty loudly in fact, but that was unintentional.
I wasn’t even the leader of this group anymore. If I wasn’t better than her at anything, how was I ever supposed to do anything for Shay? And more importantly, how was I gonna contribute to helping save the damn world?! I wasn’t even going to get full revenge on Smog. Cause apparently, whenever we fight him, Andrew’s gonna have an influence that’ll let us win!
“Well,” Shay started. “Andrew, or, Adam, I guess, fuck it I’m just calling him Davenport, is having his yearly Christmas party tonight. Carter, you’re still set to work as a waiter for that, right?”
He forgot about that, didn’t he? I thought to myself.
“Huh. With everything that’s happened, that totally slipped my mind,” he said.
“Good,”Shay said, standing up. “Then you’ll be acting as our decoy.”
“Decoy?” Carter asked, unsure of where Shay was going with this.
“Eve’s tip was to find a way to smear Davenport,” Shay went on. “Best chance we’re gonna get to snoop around the mansion is when it’s filled with people, and all the people we don’t want spotting us are preoccupied. Carter, Davenport still dosen’t know who you are. Odds are Olivia will end up figuring out what we’re up to, and so we have to hope that Eve will get her to let us do this. Much as I’d like a real rematch with her, this isn’t the time for that. So, you need to get Davenport, Dr. Gerbe, and Raina together, and spill drinks on them or something. Just keep them busy for as long as possible.”
“Got it,” the kid said, more than eager to do whatever his big sister said. “And the rest of you will be going in and looking for clues, all detective like, right?”
Shay shook her head.
“That is what we’ll be doing, but it won’t be all of us.”
For a second, I honestly thought she was gonna look at me.
Yeah, I don’t need some old, powerless cripple slowing me down. I imagined her saying. Don’t worry about it though Babe. We’ll go out for drinks after I’M done stopping the big bad.
I smiled when it wasn’t me she glanced at. I really needed to have more faith in my girlfriend.
“No way,” Joey cried out, meeting Shay’s eyes. “I can help. You can’t expect me to sit this out!”
“Yes, I can!” Shay shouted, firmly. “We all agreed that I’d be the best choice to lead Team Lightning Bee…” Team Lightning Bee? She was still using Joey’s stupid name for us? If I wasn’t so pissed at the kid, I’d say that it was still better than the names he came up with. “…and this is my call,” Shay continued. “We don’t know what we’ll find, or what we’ll be up against. I’m not putting you in that kind of danger.”
“I can handle myself!” Joey screamed back. “I’ve been training just as hard as the rest of you these past couple months. What’s it gonna take for me to prove myself to you, Shay?”
Shay’s eyes shifted over to me for a moment before straightening out.
“Nothing. There’s nothing you can do. You’re benched for this, and that’s settled.”
“Damn it, Shay!” Joey shouted, getting closer to her. “I’m not your idiot partner anymore!”
Part of me wanted to get up, be all chivalrous and tell Joey to step back…but that wouldn’t get anything done. It was Joey. Shay didn’t need any protection.
“Joey, dude,” Carter said. “Calm down. We have enough infighting as it is.”
Joey took a deep breath, his face turning red as he pursed his lips. Shay stared back into his eyes, thought clearly present in them.
What’s going through that beautiful brain of yours? I thought.
Without hesitation, Shay grabbed Joey by the collar and bottom of his shirt, picked him up into the air, and instantly slammed him down onto the ground.
“Ahhh,” Joey cried out in pain. “What the fuck?!”
Shay let her stern look fade away as she crouched down next to Joey, Carter moving closer to them.
“Listen, I appreciate the effort you’ve put in these past months,” Shay said. “I really do. I’m grateful for your efforts, your enthusiasm, and especially the instances where you really have helped us. But…” she sighed. “…you’ll never be like us.”
“What are you talking about?” Joey asked as he tried to get up, Shay holding him down. “You, me, and Malcolm. We’re all just normal people who can fight well, albeit to different degrees.”
“No Joey, we’re not, and you need to get that through your head before you get yourself killed!”
“Shay, ease up,” Carter said.
“He needs to hear this , kid,” I said, frustrated, chugging back more gingerale.
“You should be dead already,” Shay said. “I don’t know how you survived against a demon, but you won’t get that lucky again.” Shay took a deep breath. “None of us know what Malcolm did to train, but whatever it was, its allowed him to beat down Demigods and large groups of armed men for over a decade. And me? I’ve trained since I was kid, because I knew I’d never get powers, and I was determined to able to do anything and everything a Demigod could.” Shay let go of Joey and stood up. “You’re normal Joey. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but…none of us want to see you get hurt. You’re our friend.”
Shay’s speech was, of course, great. For as powerful as the kid was getting, and as incredible a fighter Shay was, their strongest assets were most definitely their words.
I mostly agreed with what Shay was saying, although I did think that Joey could benefit from just getting more experience. Still, Joey was the one she was keeping out of danger. Her little bro was the one she put as the decoy. And me? I was gonna be right by her side, investigating the mansion. The two of us together. How it should be.
Joey nodded, clearly holding back some tears. He slowly stood up, licking his lips.
“You guys agree with her?” he asked.
I nodded immediately, while it took Carter a few moments to say, “Sorry bro.”
“Okay,” he said, speeding up his nods. He looked Shay dead in the eye, his gaze filled with determination. “Then tell me what I can do. You don’t want to send me on missions you don’t think I’m up for? Fine. But unless you tell me otherwise, I’m still a part of this team. So what can I do?”
Shay smiled. She was impressed.
“There are still lots of people in the city struggling from Demongeddon,” she said. “Carter, Malcolm and I have to be focussed on the big picture right now, but the people out there still need someone to help them. Volunteer at a shelter, assist with clean-up, and, you know what? Davenport, androids…Raina. They’ll kill you without breaking a sweat. But random thugs trying to take advantage of struggling people?” Her smile widened, showing off her beautiful teeth. “I think dealing with them is a task Captain K.O. is up to.”
It was a minor task she was giving him all things considered. But, I’d always been someone out to fight for the common Joe. If I was dealing with “save the world” level shit now, it made sense for someone else to have that job.
Joey swung his hand down, grabbed Shay’s and clasped it, pulling both of their hands up.
“You can count on me.”
Good for him, I thought to myself. Carter was probably thinking the same damn thing.
Shay was right. I didn’t have anything to worry about. It didn’t matter how powerful Carter, or any of our enemies got. She and I? We’d put in the work, and turned our bodies into machines which could overcome anything.
We were the ultimate duo.