Fall 6.14: Raina

In all honesty, I had had more than enough of this crap.

Ruling at Daddy’s side was going to be amazing, and inflicting pain on those beneath me would always be fun, but as far as fighting went, I was damn sick of it.

There wasn’t a doubt in my head that martial arts was among that many things that I was amazing at. And thanks to my powers, I was even better as a fighter.

And yet, every time, every time I fought someone, anyone who wasn’t just a lame ass super villain, I ended up getting the crap kicked out of me. Hell, a few nights ago, if I’d just put Shay in a pod and taken her prisoner instead of fighting her, I could have just gone back up to the party before Carter found the lab, and I’d still have my face.

As I jumped out of the way of a pillar of earth the doctor rose from the ground, I smirked.

At least my win-loss ratio was still better than that shit head Carter’s, I thought.

With the ground shaking, and my powers upgraded by Daddy, I figured the best idea was to just keep teleporting around in the air until I could come up with an actual plan.

Likely because he was running off of pure rage, the fact that his only living target wasn’t on the ground didn’t stop him from continuing the quakes, and at the same time, he was telekinetically chucking blocks of earth at me, absolutely wrecking our lawn in the process.

Thankfully, being a teleporter meant I was able to easily evade everything he threw at me. What being a teleporter didn’t help me with was actually winning this.

Individually, being a terrakinetic and being able to create earthquakes were both powers that only a high-level Demigod could possess, the latter in particular, while very uncommon, almost always equating to immense physical strength.

Ergo, I had no way of hurting him with physical blows. If I had my foil, that could probably work, but not only did I not have my sword, I didn’t even have any of my gear. This of course meant that I was fighting an incredibly deadly foe while in a purple negligee.

“Heh,” I laughed, teleporting out of the way of two diagonally angled spikes of earth the doctor had directed toward me, and onto the branch of a nearby tree. “At least this poor bastard is gonna get something nice to look at as I kill him,” I swallowed, having momentarily forgotten what I looked like. “Probably can’t even see that well anyway,” I muttered.

Daddy was all I needed…but other relationships would still be nice. Even if Ally or Sammy had come around to seeing things my way, there’s no way in Hell they’d ever want to be with me now that I was so hideous.
The strength of the quake increased, making the tree I was in heavily shake, and the branch I was standing on fall and crash on the ground.

I teleported, but rather than ending up in my intended destination, I wound up standing on the ground just a few inches away from Stella’s corpse, which, due to being impaled on a spire while the quakes were happening, had broken into two parts.

Caught off guard, I instantly fell on my ass and started rolling around on the ground.

Damn, I thought. Mind is clouded. Need to clear it.

“Ahh!” I grunted as a pillar of earth rose from the ground and slammed me in the stomach, knocking me a few feet into the air. And as soon as I hit the ground, the pillar retracted, only to rise back up and nail me in the stomach again.

And again.

And again.

“RAAAAAAAAGH!” the mindless doctor screamed as I writhed in pain.

Carter would probably love seeing this. Seeing me “the villain” in his eyes, get what I deserve. Yeah, and he and Olivia would probably have a good laugh too over my face. “Guess we were wrong about her. At least now she looks like the person she really is! HAHAHAHA!”

“Assholes,” I whispered, a different pillar rising up this time to strike me in the head.

“Fuck!” I cried in pain as I was knocked into the air in an arc, flying over the pieces of Stella and landing back down on the cold, still shaking ground.

I really needed to get everyone and everything else out of my head, or I was dead. I didn’t need to worry about any of them; what I needed was a plan.

Before the doctor could attack again, I teleported myself to a place which, whie dangerous to be, would at least keep me away from the ground: the mansion’s roof.

Panting a bit, I thought outloud.

“Can’t hurt him. He can really hurt me. And being a Demigod, none of my tricks like redirecting projectiles are going to work on him.” I grit my teeth. “Why is Smog even coming after me? And why the Hell did I think this was a good idea?!”

The magnitude of the quake increased once more, sending me falling off the roof.

“Damn it all,” I said, teleporting myself mid-fall from the air to on top of the terrakinetic, wrapping my legs around his neck.

My lower body was much stronger than my upper body. If I had any chance of choking him out, it was gonna with my legs.

“You may be doing this against your will, but I really don’t care,” I said, using my legs to put pressure on his throat. “Dying here just means you won’t die with the rest of the peasants in a few months.”

“LAAAAAAAAAAB!” he shouting stomping on the ground to create a seismic wave which threw me straight off of him.

Lab? I thought.

Oh shit. Smog hadn’t sent this loser to kill me. Somehow, he always knew what all of my ex-friends and I were up to. I’d been to the underground lab several times, but always while Daddy was around to use his magic. Same deal with Olivia and Eve I’d wager.

But Carter, Shay, and Malcolm had gone down there too. Of course he’d know where it was now! And if Smog was Daddy’s enemy…

“Sorry dickhead,” I said, rubbing my head. “But you’re not destroying my mansion, and you’re not getting in the way of our plans!”

Almost as if in response, though with his level of consciousness it was certainly just a coincidence, the doctor shot his arms up into the sky, and sent a massive spire of earth, which must have been at least 10 feet wide and 15 feet long, from the ground, straight through the mansion, the sound the impact made almost deafening.

Falling to my knees, I grunted.

Dr. Gerbe had been hard at work putting everything back together since Carter trashed the lab. That damage was all fixable. But if he collapsed the house? Made the lab inaccessible? There’s no way everything would be ready in time for the next phase of the plan.

I looked up. If I could get back to my room, I could get my phone and call Daddy. Unfortunately, my curtains were completely shut.  I didn’t remember if I’d left them that way or if all the shaking had shut them, but either way, I had no line of site.

“CRUUUUUUUUUUSH!” the loser screamed, his raised hands trembling.

The ground around me stopped shaking, but since I was still turned toward the mansion, it didn’t take me long to realize why.

All of his seismic power was being focused around the house, large cracks forming around the perimeter, and the glass windows were shattering.

It wouldn’t be long before the whole thing was falling apart.

“Not gonna happen!” I shouted.

Taking a deep breath, I opened my eyes widely, not allowing myself to blink. The target of my sight: the giant spike of earth going through my house.

Since my fight with Shay, Daddy had upgraded my powers even further. Now, I could teleport  objects even if I couldn’t physically lift them.

Still, that massive hunk of earth was super heavy. It was gonna take a lot of focus and a lot of energy to teleport it to right over the doctor’s head.

No way even that would kill him, but it might slow him down, maybe giving me enough time to get to my room, and call Daddy.

He’d shown me some examples of his immense magical power, but I wasn’t sure if he could teleport from one country to another. If he could, this would be over in an instant. If he couldn’t, we were fucked.

“Come on, come on, come on,” I whispered to myself, sweating as I focused on the spire.

Of course, it was difficult to concentrate while having to watch the house I’d lived in my entire life come apart at the seams.

I had to succeed though. Daddy would always love me, but if I failed, he’d be mad. I didn’t want mad at me. I didn’t want anyone mad at me.

“Move!” I screamed, getting a bad headache and falling over as I teleported the spike from inside the house to its intended destination.

Falling right on the doctor, he was crushed beneath its weight.

As I’d just learned, I could teleport even objects of great mass. But as I’d also learned, doing so completely exhausted me.

“Oh…oh God,” I panted, struggling to keep my eyes open.
As I struggled to stand back up, two things easily got my eyes to widen.

The first was that, duh, removing the spike was going to cause even more damage to the house, parts of the upper level of the house crumbling down to the lower level, not to mention the entire infrastructure being disturbed.

Damn it, I thought. I’m not stupid. I’m not Carter! I should have known that would happen! If he gets back up, one more focused earthquake will make the whole mansion fall apart.

And on cue, the doctor busted through the spike I’d dropped on him, barely a scratch on him, and looking even more pissed.

“Fuck you!” I angrily grunted, not enough energy left in me to actually shout.

Unexpectedly, he started walking toward me.

Guess I’d pissed him off enough to take him off task. The house, and subsequently the lab,  were safe for now. That was good. What wasn’t good was that I was now even more defenseless than when I’d started. Maybe I could still teleport small objects, but there was no way I was teleporting myself at this point.

“Smog,” I said, the doctor getting closer. “If you’re listening, this isn’t going to change anything. We’ll rebuild. The Votary can not be stopped!”

Just as I finished talking, the terrakinectic, whose eyes were now pure red and staying that way, picked me up off the ground by the crown of my head.

He snarled at me, and knowing that punching or kicking him would hurt me more than him, I just spat in his face as a response.

Exposing his teeth, he snarled.

“Ahhhhhh!!!” I shouted in agony.

He was vibrating my head with probably as much force as he used on the ground. I could…I couldn’t…

“Yaaaaaaah!” I continued howling, blood flooding out of my ears.

This…is the worst. Why…does this keep happening to me? I don’t…I don’t deserve this…

Finally, he stupped…stopped, shaking my bed, and threwd me cross the dawn.

“Oh gad,” I muttered. “Bawey…barely tinking.”

Come on Ray. Git youself togeder.

Befaw I could take any other acton, another cylinder of earth popped out of the ground, javving me in the back. Knocked upwards, anothar cylinder kem out of the gown, and jabbed me in the somach.

Back and forth, back and fowth…the two cynders knocking me around.

“Pain…so bad. Stop.”

And prisingly, it did.

Appawently satisfied, he turned abound, and walked back towards the mason.

“Over…” I said. “Can’t let you…”

“LAAAAAAAAB!” the doctor repeted, once mo focusing seiskick waves awound the cows.

“NOOOOOO!” I shouted as loudly as I could at that pont, vatching my entire house cumble apart. “Daddy…he’ll be so mad.”

Less hurt than the res of my body, I started using my arms to pull myself away from the tewwakinti. I needed to hide and bewind the tree I wah in earleir was as good a place as any.

Looking bewind me, he still wasn’t paying appention to me. Just on completely destroying my howm.

“Okay…okay…” I said, panting. “I failed…everyping is ruin…Daddy will be so mad…punished. Oh god.” Hyperventilating, I finally started crying, something none of the phypical pain has cosed.

Daddy loved me. But he could still…he was…

Will he though? He’s been vorking so haws for so lom. And now, I’ve ruined everyting. And I’m ugly. And my brain is turning to mush.

My tears were coming out non-stop, running down my whole body.

“Damn it all!” I screamed, bunching the ground.

Pant afcer pant…sigh after sigh…it was too much.

I’d decluded myself. Those months ago…thought…thought I needed to die.

Maybe…was right.

“I’ve lose everyone,” I said. “Turned away. Except Daddy…and now…Daddy….he…

He’d be extra rough. He’d degrade me more….he’d…he’d…

No…no.

It wasn’t…Carter…Ally…they were wrong!

It wasn’t!

“I’m the problem! Not him!”

Daddy should be cappy, I taught. He’ll be better off without me.

Rasing a leg and putting pressure down with it, I pussed myself up to a crowched position, and moved away from the tree.

“Bastard!” I screamed. “Please! Kill me!”

Need to make things right…need to make things right for Daddy.

Barely any of the mansion still standing, the doctor turned to me, his eyes still as red as my blood.

This…this was the only way out.

Befaw, I thought I needed to die because of the people I’d hurt and kelled. Now, it was to make things up to the man who’d stood by me. Who’d been truly close…even when he was…

Up unti now, the doctor had mostly just growled and scowled. Now, he was smiling.

The ground benath my feet started shaking, the earth rising, and slowly moving up my body. Once more, I closed my eyes and took a breath.

I’m ready, I thought, a cocon of earth having formed around me, the dirt coverewing everything from my neck down.

With one last gasp, the cocoon tightened around my body, squeezing the life out of me.

“Oh,” I gasped. “God.”

I shut my eyes. There wasn’t any bead to watch my killer smile as I got what I deserved.

However, pain got worse. And for a second, my eyes re-opened. What I was…it wasn’t the doctor. I wasn’t even outside.

I was in my room.

Well this is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Queen said, standing over me as I was seated on my bed. We were supposed to rule not die like a bitch.

“I didn’t have a choice,” I cried. “If we don’t die, Daddy will be mad.”

Queen was of course dressed in her full suit. And I was bare naked. Her face was perfect. And I could still feel the burning sensation on mine.

It was uncomfortable, but at least I seemed to be thinking clearly.

Who gives a crap about Daddy?! This is about what’s best for us! That’s what I’ve always been trying to tell you!

“And what exactly do you think is “best for us” right now?”

To live of course,you idiot! So we can figure out a way to kill Daddy, and take everything for ourselves.

“That’s not what I want,” I moaned.

Then what do you want? To be loved?! She laughed. Honey, you have managed to turn away every single person who did love you.

“No. It was their fault. Not mine!”

Is that so? Because from where I’m standing, it was you who refused to listen to Olivia and just threw a tantrum. It was you who was dumb enough to think that your friends, who I remind you, are very firmly in the “goody good” camp, would actually accept you working with your genocidal father, just because you were trying to save them. She cackled once more. Wow, you don’t even have that reason anymore do you? Ally, Sammy, Hope, Harrison, Casey, Malcolm, Olivia, Eve, Carter, and now Daddy? They ALL hate you! And you hate most of them!

“I just…I wanted to…”

Wanted to what? Re-connect with Daddy? Seriously dear, our ex-friends are all right. Whether he love us or not is up for debate. But one way or another, Daddy is just a big, fat old rapi…

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” I screamed over and over again. “Why won’t you ever leave me alone? Why can’t I just die in peace?!”

We’re not dead yet. We’re in the process of dying. And I’m just trying to get you to get your crap together so you can save us!

“Why would I do that?! So I can get more hate? So I can somehow kill Daddy and take over the operation?! Don’t you get that I don’t want that?!”

Then what DO you want, Raina?! Biting her lip, she shook her head. Do you even know who you want to be?

Suddenly, I looked just like Queen.

Me? The diabolical supervillain? My appearance changed again, this time morphing my clothes into my Fencer costume. What about Fencer? The hypocritical heroine who thought she could serve as both a vigilante and a crime lord.

“Stop talking,” I said, barely audible.

Once again, my appearance changed, this time leaving me in my Votary uniform.

How about the pawn? The one so eager to get back in Daddy’s favor that she’d betray literally everyone she cares about.

“They betrayed me.”

You can’t lie to me, Ray. I know we don’t actually believe that. No matter how much we say it. Deep down, you just want to tell everyone how sorry you are.

“No,” I said. “Maybe some of them I screwed up with…but Carter and Olivia hurt me in ways they can never make up for!”

Queen smirked.

Maybe you’re still just the queen bitch, she said as I changed into my school uniform. Maybe you’re just a straight up crime lord, she said I changed into a slutty dress. Or maybe you wish you could just turn back the clock, say no to Daddy, and be a normal girl, she said, changing me into a pink shirt and designer jeans. Is this it? Is this what you want?! To be a peasant?!

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said.

I’m you you fucking bitch! I’m the only one who does! And I know that NONE of these personas will make you happy, because none of them are who you are. With one more change, I was now in a black dictator uniform,complete with a peaked cap. It’s not too late. We’re still alive. Kill this serf! Kill your father! Kill everyone whose continued presence will be a distraction! Become the villain of the story! Become God!

In single strike, someone who I couldn’t see sliced off Queen’s head, making her fade away.

As I saw who had done it, I gasped.

I really don’t like seeing someone who looks like my daughter talk that way, she said, sitting down next me.

“Mo…mother,” I muttered.

Hello Raina, she said, her smile as gorgeous as I remembered it.

“You…you’re not real,” I said, feeling tears in my eyes without them actually being present.

No. I’m not. But, she said, putting an arm around me. The real me? She’s watching over you.

“You don’t know that,” I said, holding my head down. “You only know as much as I do.”

She held me tighter.

Can’t get one passed you. Even still, I think I’m the one you need to listen to right now. So let’s play pretend, okay? Like when you were little?

I was surprised I was living long enough for this all to take place. Maybe this was all going on in an instant?

Regardless, real or not, this wasn’t an opportunity I was going to pass up.

“Okay,” I said, sniffling. Looking right into her eyes, I said,  “I miss you so much.”

I miss you too, she said. I’m truly sorry I left you in the situation I did.

“Why?” I asked. “I was still rich. Still had friends. Still was waited on hand and foot. Still had D…Mommy, did you love Daddy?”

Mother sighed.
My relationship with your father was…complicated. We both loved you but, the older you got, the more distant we became. The stronger his…urges got.

“No.”

He always wanted you, Raina. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to protect you from him.

“Don’t be! Don’t be. I didn’t need protecting! We were just…just having…”

It wasn’t fun, dear. Misguided as that hideous version of you was, she was right about one thing.

“But, even if he hurts me…he still loves me right?”

Yes. Yes he definitely cares about you greatly. But wouldn’t you rather be with people who care about you AND treat you well?

“It’s too late for that Mommy,” I said. “I’ve tuned on them. And they’ve turned on me.”

Come on Raina, she said, laying us both down on our backs, my uniform morphing back into casual clothes. On the ceiling, images of most of my ex-friends appeared. You may not have another chance after this. But turn around now. Stay true to yourself for good. And they’ll all welcome you back. Because they love you as much as I did.

I clenched my fists, and the images on the ceiling were replaced with ones of Olivia and Carter.

“What about them? They hurt me, Mommy! One made me a monster, and the other one made me look like a monster!”

Mother smiled.

Darling, in my eyes, you will always be perfect. But I think we both know that that’s just my bias talking. You have lots of flaws, and you’ve made many mistakes. She gestured with her head. Just like them. You know how awful Olivia felt about what she had to do. All she wanted was freedom, and later, for you to be happy. And come on dear,” she said, stroking my hair. There is no one in this world who loves you more than Carter Myers.

“Are you kidding?! Look at what he did to me!”

A mistake, Raina. A truly awful, awful mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. You’ve made your fair share of those too.

“I guess.”

And we can’t forget that we was just trying to help you. Like he always does.

“I guess.”

And if you can push yourself to survive through this, Carter, and Olivia, and everyone else…they wouldn’t expect anything of you except for you to be happy.

“No,” I said. “They’ll still be mad. I’ve been hurting and killing more people. I’ve been helping promote Lightning Bee as some shitty messiah who hates the homeless and powerless, and will send all those who don’t support him to Hell!”

Softly stroking my face, she said, If you can forgive them, they can forgive you.

On its own the door to my room slowly started opening, a white light peaking through.

It looks like it’s almost time for me to go, she said.

“What?! No! You just got here!”

We both know this isn’t real. But I do certainly hope that many, many years down the line, we’ll see each other again for real. Because right now, you need to keep on living.

She helped sit me up, and she herself stood up.

Before I go, and before you wake up, there is one more thing.

“Yes…Mommy?”

Be yourself. All those personas the fake you reminded you of. They’re not you. But deep down, you know who you’re supposed to be.

The door fully opened and the white light flooded the room.

Goodbye my love.

“Mommy! Wait!”

The light engrossed me, and julike dat, it was all gone.

I was back where I was behore,in the middle of the air, trapped in a cocoon of earth, the life being squeezed out of me, and seevingly no time having passed.

And I wasn’t tinking right again.
“Damn it,” I whispered, real tears coming down my pace. “I want to better. I can be better. I can everyone back.” Shutting my eyes, I donned a smile of defeat, the pain my body was feeling overwhelming. “But it’s too late,” I said, losing feel in every part of body. “I won’t be…living, Mommy. I can’t move. Barely think…it’s over.”

*
Once upon a time, there was a princess.

All her life, she’d thought she was perfect.

And while this was far from the truth, behind all of the many influences in her life, there was a heart of gold.

For a time, she’d arisen to become a tyrant, tormenting both the people she cared for, and the innocents she ruled over.

Rebels were not an issue. They could be put down with great ease.

But the force the princess could not overcome through sheer power was herself. The feeling that she wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

And as she continued to commit acts of horror, the nagging feeling persisted.

One day, the princess could take it no more. The darkness which had clouded her mind was driven away, and a new feeling of purpose overcame her.

A drive to make up for all that she had done. And unlike the first time she’d gone through this, she was sure about who she was.

Unfortunately for the princess, it was too late.

Forces beyond mere rebels came for her, and alone, without her friends, her family, or her knight, she was defenseless.

And so, despite her epiphany, there was no happy ending for the princess. No time for redemption.

She was lost.

She was dead.

*

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” a voice screamed at ear piercing volum, making my eyes open just a tint.

Looking up with the little energy I still had, I couldn’t believe sight.

It’s…him.

In sky was Carter, a beautiful white aura surrounding him, feet together, arms at side, he was propelling into air with lightning.

It’s…him, I thought again, managed to smile a bit through the pain. He was actually here…

“LEAVE HER ALONE!” Carter shouted, stopping strams, and descending toward doctor.

The casing stopped hurting, and fell apart. I…fell to the ground.

“DIIIIIIIIIE!” terrakinetic screamed, lifting large land around a tree into air, and throwing it  at Car.

“Look out,” I whispered.

But he didn’t.

The amount of lightning around Car grew, and flying down at diagonal angle, he plowed straught the earth mass, brekaing it and tree into million pieces.

Holy….

“NO ONE HURTS HER!” he screamed, nearing the doctor. “NEVER AGAIN!!!”

And shouting that, he hit doctor with a righ hook, and sent him flying back over 20 feet, from where we were, well into rumble of my home.

…shit.

He was…so strong. How?

Didn’t matter.

Carter was here.

Tried to talk. Couldn’t.
“Ray,” he said, running over to me. Crowched, he elevated me a bit in his arms. “It’s okay..it’s all okay.”

Looking into big blue eyes, my smile grew.

“Snipey,” I said, bareally audible.

“Yeah,” he said, giving me that great dopey smile as he teared up. “It’s me. And I am so, so sorry about everything!”

“Stupid,” I said, trying to slap, but just passing my hand over his face. “I’m the one…who’s sorry. I betrayed you.”

“And I hurt you!” he paused. “Wait, you’re sorry?” he asked, sound relieved.

“Yes,” I said, nodding over and over again. “So sorry.”  I then remembered about my face. “Oh God! Carter, don’t look at me,” I said putting hands over my face. “I’m hideous.”

“No,” Carter said, moving my hands out way. “You’re as beautiful as ever.”

An undescribible high-pitched sound exited my mouth, as a new found burst of energy let me wrap my arms around Carter.

And in turn, he wrap his arms round me.

“I’ve done so many bad things,” I said. “Many chances. Do I…have any left?”

His tears as many as mine, he nodded.

“Of course. Of course you do!” he made some odd noises. Not sure hwat emotion they meant. “I love you Raina. Always will.”

“I love you too,” I said. “I just…wish we could make up for acts…together.”

“We will!” he said. “Everything is gonna be okay!”

“No,” I said, vision clouded by light. “I’m…I’m not making it through this.”

“What?”

“Mind’s slipping…body’s broken…I’m just…glad I was able to say goodbye.”

“No,” he said, letting go of me, and laying me back down. “You’re not dying, Ray! You hear me!”
“Sorry Snipey,” I siad. “Was already on my way out. Hearing you…just gave me an extra jolt. Won’t last.”

“You’re not listening, Raina. You’re. NOT. Dying. No one is dying!”

He got up, walking…I couldn’t…couldn’t see…the light…blacking everyting…going…

“Carter,” I pispered.

“HA!” he shcreamed.

Barely seeing what was going on, he was cutting into his arm…with sharp rubble.

“What…what…”

“I have a healing factor, Ray! And damn if I’m not gonna try to save you with it!”

But…it only healed…hm…

“Stay open!” he shouted. Squinting, I saw that he was repetingly cotting himself, cause wound…wound kept healing instantly. But blood still all over himself.

“FINE!” he screamed. “No choice left!”

Raising what I now saw was a shiv that prob…probably came from a window, he stabbed himself straight throw forearm.

“Ahh!” he grunted, rushing back to me. “I don’t know if this will work…but it has to!”

There were deep cuts all over me. For ease, he used one on my arm, and rubbed wounds togetj…our running blood mixing…

“Please!” he screamed. “I don’t know where this power comes from! But I know it works when I’m scared! And right now, there is nothing I’m more scared of than this! Of you dying! Of Malcolm and Shay dying!” He kept bubbing out wounds together. “I’ve never had friends…or a happy family. But now I have both! And I’m not losing it! NEVER!”

Cheesy…but Carter’s special cheesiness…and making it more special…it worked.

His blood turned to bright white electricity, and it started surging through me.

My mind started thinking normally again, my sight cleared up, and slowly, my wounds, and all of my physical pain, started fading away.
And as the lightning went through me, the look on Carter’s face was one of pure determination.

After about a minute of this, I felt, while not all better, and still very weak, much better.

Carter stood up, and the lightning faded as the pain did.

Smiling widely, he said, “I think it worked.”

“Yeah,” I said, standing up with his assistance. “I think it did.”

With both of us now standing , I wrapped my arms around him again.

“One of these days I promise I’m gonna start saving you, instead,” I said.

“I’m counting on it,” he responded.

We let go, and just looked at each other, smiling genuinely at one another for the first time in far too long.

“So…uh,” he said, awkwardly scratching the back of his head. “Sorry I didn’t get here in time to save your house.”

I laughed.

“I’m just glad you showed up at…OH MY GOD!” I shouted, facing a horrible realization.

“What is it?” he asked.

“People! There were still people in there! Both servants and all the people Daddy has prisoner in the lab.

“Crap,” he said, starting to run toward the rubble.

I tried to keep pace, but I just ended up falling over.

He stopped, and then turned around to come back to me.

“I’m sorry,” I panted. “Still too weak.”

“It’s fine. Perfectly fine,” he said, still smiling. “Just the fact that you’re okay…it’s fine if you’re not in top shape right now.” He sighed. “Listen Ray, very, very soon, Malcolm and Shay are gonna be fighting Smog. And if they lose, everyone in Bluejay will die.” Oh my god. “But, along with some other cops, Joey is taking a bunch of people out of the city on a bus. If you can make it to the bus rental about half a mile from here, you can get out of the city, and get to a hospital so you can get real treatment beyond whatever the Hell my powers are.”

“Wait…I’m sorry,” I said. “He’ll kill everyone?! Shouldn’t you be there?!”

“Malcolm and Shay have got this. The evacuation busses are just an extra precaution. I’m just glad I was here for you. That I got here in time.”

I somehow managed to chuckle, even with the grim situation.

“What were  you even doing here?” I asked.

“I, uh, um,” he stammered like the lovable doofus he was. “I was kinda worried Smog might send someone after you. And, uh, he did!”

“Aw, you care about me?” I said in a mocking tone.

“Yeah, I do,” he said as if it were the most obvious things. “I think our hugging and crying and expressing our love made that pretty clear.”

“You dork!” I shouted, lightly punching his shoulder. “For real though,” I said in a more serious tone. “I should probably get going. And you should…do your thing. Save everyone in there you can. Even…even the terrakinetic. Wasn’t his fault what he did.”

“Right,” he said, still smiling. “I think…I think everything is gonna be okay.”

“So do I,” I replied, smiling back. “Um, one more thing before we go.”

“What’s up?”

“I think…I think after all this time, I know…I know for sure who I want to be.”

“Yeah?” he asked, filled with joy.

“Yeah,” I answered calmly. “I don’t want to be a villain or a conqueror. A bitch or celebrity. Someone who’s only doing good things as part of a pity party. Or a normal girl. I don’t want any of that.”

Looking at the happiness on his face, it was clear he already knew what I was going to say.

Before finishing off the brief speech, I exhaled.

“I want to be a hero.”

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