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   Chapter 21 The Calm Before the Carnival

Blog of a Teenage Superhero By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 7866

Updated: 2017-12-05 19:05

^^ Sapphire, Ruby, Garnet

Though we belong to the same fandoms and spend at least a quarter of every year preparing costumes for comic con, Kai, Finn, and I have only cosplayed together once. This is because we nearly killed each other. We chose to play Garnet from Steven Universe, and Ruby, and Sapphire, even though Ruby, Sapphire, and Garnet can“t exist all at once in external parts.

Finn and I both wanted Garnet. Badly. He said whoever was tallest should play her and I said whoever kicked the most butt —very obviously me—deserved the role. We were seconds away from blows when Kai pulled as apart and proposed we draw names, and so we did, because we couldn“t afford Finn breaking a few bones so close to con.

It was Kai, neither tall nor butt-kicking, who played Garnet. But watching Finn fumble with Sapphire“s poofy dress made up for it. Almost.

"Sorry," I say, smoothing the lump in the dress“s back where my cape bunches up at the shoulders, "about taking your dress." I“m already sweating and the dancing hasn“t even begun.

"It“s fine." Finn buries himself in the couch cushions, whapping his bouquet against his thigh. He blinks up at me with a polite smile. "You look nice."

For the first time, I“m wearing makeup other than to hide my scars. "Finnamon Bun, you need to stop being nice to me. This isn“t th natural order of things."

"It could be."

I don“t know what that means, and I don“t have time to find out. There“s a knock on the door. My heart leaps in my throat. I snatch up the petalled paper-plate mask I made when I was in my crafty phrase, one hand caught in my mess of hair. It“s still tangled; Kai got blonde hairs stuck in my comb. "Coming!"

Kai races out of the bathroom, his hair fixed, bangs gelled up into a feathery twist. He jumps the couch, twists, lands hard beside Finn. He kisses him on the cheek and wrenches the bouquet out of his hands, laughing, squealing. "AHAHAHAH! I“m your date now!"

"What—no! Give that back!" The boys are up on their feet in seconds, Finn shouting, Kai laughing, mercilessly laughing. Ducking, zagging, tearing through the library, Finn flailing for him, Kai flinging books with one hand, waving the flowers with the other. Ms. Stanley bangs her ceiling relentlessly. Neither boy yields. Kai vaults over Dad“s armchair and ducks behind my waist.


pping with paint. If we were in a movie, this would be the exact moment for a first kiss, the two of us swathed in gold light as the sun plunges into the sea.

My thumb settles on his scar. It“s nothing to write home about, this kiss. Our masks bump. Max is strapped in, and it takes him about twenty seconds to unbuckle his seatbelt so he doesn“t have to strain over the console. When our mouths meet, I“m trying too hard to remember a kiss“s moving parts to enjoy it and all I can really hear is the scraping of my paper mask against his, the hardened scales flicking off from the friction of his plastic and my hot glue.

But you know what? It“s my kiss. And it“s quick. Only a minute before we pull back, a little flushed, a little shaky. The world is dancing under my fingertips. Warmth. The taste of mint and chapstick. His hands are still cupped around my face, and his eyes are rounded and wild. In them, I see something like fear.

I pull out of his grasp. I want to pretend everything“s okay. Just for tonight. I“ll protect him like I protected Chip. Just this once, just this one night, everything will go okay for me. For him.

"Ready?" I ask.

He puts the car in drive. "Yeah," he says, wiping the side of his mouth."I just...I just have a bad feeling about this, is all."

"I“ll protect you," I tell him, playing with my purse strap. But when I glance at his reflection in the passenger-side window, his jaw is clenched and he“s squeezing the steering wheel so hard his knuckles are white.

Max isn“t the only one with a bad feeling about this.

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