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   Chapter 23 Another Sort of Heroism

Blog of a Teenage Superhero By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 13545

Updated: 2017-12-05 19:04


Kai leans against Finn“s shoulder, his thumbnail dug between his teeth. The two boys sit together in shared silence under the stars, the talk of strangers and the thump of faraway pop hits white noise to the drum of their own hearts as well as the quiet warmth of each other“s grasp. Cold seeps through their clothes, but the two don“t notice, watching the carnival pass in a swirl of savory smells and giggling teens, until Finn asks: "Where“s Monet?"

Kai shrugs against his friend, sighing contently. "Probably in a tree, K-I-S-S-I—"

Finn stands up. His chest suddenly hurts. "I haven“t seen Max, either."

"Max?" Kai shakes his head, laughing. "Are you blind? K-I-S-S-I-N-G Percy."

To this, Finn squints. There are few trees in the vicinity or any place private really to kiss anyone anywhere. He pulls Kai to his feet with a few reluctant tugs. "We better look for her, I guess."

"Naw, leave Monet and her love life alone."

Finn scans heads, trekking through the grass, Kai skipping in tow. No Monet. No Percy. No Max. His heart pounds faster behind his ribs, stirred with the certain knowledge that the pieces are snapping together to form a far less innocent picture than k-i-s-s-i-n-g. He grits his jaw. "Not her love life, her other life."

Kai“s dark eyes light up as he swirls his thump in Finn“s palm. "You think she“s superheroing again?"

Finn is no idiot. He figured it out about the moment Monet donned that stupid black hood she found God knows where. After all, she got super-powers the day before. But the boys agreed to pretend it wasn“t happening, so long as she did. If she thinks she“s "protecting" him and Kai, let her.

Now, Finn admits with a quiet grunt he regrets it. Maybe he shouldn“t have played along. Maybe he should“ve demanded to be a part of that piece of her, the hero part of her. Because maybe now, she“s gone.

The grass is damp and soft underfoot, bunches pulled up, patches flattened. The boys fix their collars snug against their throats, the wind brisk, chilling as the darkness thickens. "Hey!" Kai shouts, kicking up a twist of blue fabric. It shimmers in the muted sliver of moonlight. Finn“s heart snatches in a clenched fist.

"What a disrespectful way to treat a friend“s dress," he mutters. Kai scrounges the mangy grass, pocketing paper-plate chips of painted blue scales. The rest of the dress is shredded. Neatly. The bodice sliced from the skirts with a single vertical tear, Monet“s keychain blade, her trusty weapon, stabbed into the grass beside it.

Monet is weird. Unkillably, unbreakably, weird. You attack her school and she chases you out with hardly your life intact, you fire her from her fake reporter job and she investigates the disappearance of Silver Dollar“s supers on her own with thousands of fans clinging to her every word, you drown her in bubbling acid and she gets superpowers.

It“s the gold and white wing that ratchets the closedness in Finn“s chest. "Call the police."

"But what about her identity-thing?"

"Honestly, Kai! Call the police!"

Kai chews his thumbnail again, staring down at the broken wing. "She“s been through worse, right?"

"You think Percy has?"

His heartbeat pounds between his ears, the air filled with the weight of their silences. Together, the boys stare at the scaly mask and the shimmering shreds of blue silk dress, sharing the slow, sinking thud of dread. It“s only the gasping cries of a running boy that make them look up. Kai“s quivering hand is curled around his phone. "Finn, Kaito!"

"Seriously, doesn“t anyone use a phone anymore? Does Percy“s group just run at people, arms flailing?" Finn squints at the bizarro him, the guy who mumbles and grunts, almost his height with prettier hair. Long and blonde, knotted in a messy lump against the nape of the boy“s neck. The left side of his face is covered in spreading bruises, splashes of yellow and green, the skull on his shirt etched with brown blood. As Chip races forward, Finn rolls his eyes, but his gut is twisted and wrought with pity.

Chip

, thinking of the heroes she needs to save, thinking of Monet. Her wrists tremble. Every muscle is taut with the strain of trying. So many people are depending on her. She has the powers, tapped down deep inside of her, raveled up in her DNA, all she has to do is...is...

"I don“t," Percy says. Her right temple throbs. With a gasp of her held breath, she drops her hands. A tear races down her face. Not from sadness, not from frustration, but from the stress. Digging for something that isn“t there, straining for powers that don“t exist. "I don“t have superpowers," she whispers, and then louder: "just because you do doesn“t mean I do."

"Persephone," her mother says in a tone so soft, so whispery, it feels like silk in the air. "If you don“t have them, we can“t save the other heroes."

Percy presses her fingertips to her brow. Her world is coming undone around her. Everything she thought she knew, about her friends, about her family, about herself. She wants to gush to Chip, even Max, and Monet. Monet. Percy stares at the barred door, at the shifting pallets of light. "My friend is in trouble, too," she says, unstrapping her heels, her head still pounding. Her mother stares down at her, and her eyes are darker than Percy“s. People like to talk about the intensity of colored eyes, the piercing emerald beauty of Percy“s, the delicate calming blue of Chip“s. But her mother“s eyes are just as intelligent, just as cutting.

She struggles for words. "Oh, Percy, just..." Clenching and unclenching her shaking hands, she sighs. "You have superpowers. You just have to... believe?" The hero frowns and shakes her head at her daughter“s blank expression. "Really. Believe in yourself. That“s all you have to do." She tries to smile, and it still comes out a frown.

Mother-daughter talks don“t happen in the Jameson household, because both parties, mother and daughter respectively, suck at them. Percy runs her hands through her hair, poky pins stabbing in her fingertips and palms. A switch flickers on in her brain, chasing away the despair with a simple “aha.“ All she can think about, all at once, is saving Monet.

No powers. Her world unraveled. She edges toward the door, her heart a hole in her chest. "Mom?" she asks. "Do you know how to pick a lock?"

Drastic times call for drastic measures, and though Percy is not a super, she knows she can still become a hero.

***

Some Shipping Fun:

Max x Monet—Moax? Manet?

Percy x Monet—Mercy from Susaninthesky. Percy Jackson?

Finn X Monet— ShowMeTheFinnamon. Or, just, Finnet.

Finn x Kai— Finnamon PoKaito?

Masquerade x Onyx— Masqyx. Onquerade. Um. This one is pretty hard.

Got any ideas for ship names?

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