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   Chapter 61

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 20576

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


"Your supervillain stuff is boring, and you don“t have to take me everywhere. Besides, if you get me any closer to Angelos I swear he“s gonna shoot me with his bloody mind powers."

Owl rummages through every room she finds, not just for Curtis, but for something that she can find in a desk drawer. "Those bastards," she swears every time, throwing furniture and snapping drawers. She even tears the carpet off the floor, kicking free wood slats looking for...something.

She leaves me cuffed up as she looks. To a knob, a chest, a chair. She has enough lackeys to watch me without her getting her hands dirty. Tying up human soldiers only takes what? Twenty minutes? Her interest in me leaves me suspicious.

Owl paces, clutching her hands behind her back. Her armored gloves flex and crunch as she clenches and unclenches her fingers. For the first time, she doesn“t look like she“s in control. Sweat glistens on her brow, her face paling. "Quiet. You destroying your friendship with my son is no concern of mine."

"It“s your fault."

She snorts and wipes away a bead of sweat. "Don“t blame me for your mistakes."

"Oh, ho. You“re so innocent. Not like you threatened to starve me to death or anything."

Owl touches her chest. We“re in a library. Behind us, sunlight slants through the stained windows, casting her in reds and yellows, blues and greens. The bookshelves are rich, stained the deepest shade of mahogany. Volumes, some modern, some crackling with yellow pages, hit the ground as Owl plows through the texts. The emptiness of the massive room makes me shudder and ease deeper into the couch. It“s red silk, embroidered with lilies and lotus flowers. It looks as out of place as I feel, what with my ankle hooked up to the leg and all.

She looks up, as if asking guidance from some figure above. "I would“ve starved to death rather than betray my mistress."

"Well, bully for you." I stretch out, lolling an arm over the back of the couch and wiping my eyes with my free hand. "Except you wouldn“t. Starve to death, I mean. “Cause you“re super. You could cannibalize yourself." Wouldn“t be pleasant, but food is food.

Owl runs her fingertips over a book“s deckled edge. She sighs. Standing there, her red armor blazing in the early sun, she looks like a band of fire. It makes my skin prickle. I don“t want to be alone with her. I want to be with Heaven and Angelos.

My heart sinks in my chest. The thought of them feels like a punch in the stomach. This is my fault. Owl made me a puppet and I let her pull my strings. Now, I have to pay for my actions. And for being a jerk about them. I really need to stop threatening to stab Angelos.

"They wouldn“t keep any information here," Owl says. Her voice is a sigh. She rests her head in her palm, if only for a moment. "Looking through books is like... like looking through the tenth page of Google. Useless. And you“re lucky if you don“t catch a virus in one of the pages of bullshit."

I loll on my side. "You“re trying too hard."

"I“m eight-hundred years old, give me a break." She clenches her fist at her side, the only show she gives of her anger. The rest of her is stiff as a reed. With a harsh glance thrown in my direction, she sets her book on the couch arm. "Only Curtis knows," she tells me, as if I have any idea what she“s talking about. "Besides, I promised to tell you who your parents are."

"Yes." I sit up straight, clinking my chain. My thoughts wander back to Angel and the hard anger in his face back at the car. It“s true, what I said. I hate him and Hev tangling me up in this cursed villainy stuff, and all the same, I care about them. How can I not care about them?

I stare down at my hands, my wrists still pink under my shirt sleeves. I won“t even ask myself what I“ve done, because I know I“ll do it all again. Threaten Angelos? Betray Heaven? Only the first ticked boxes on a long to-do list, that“s for sure.

Cold sweat collects on the back of my neck. From the sun, of course. In a swift motion, Owl clicks me free from the chair. She moves so fast I think her a blur.

I hesitate as she grips my elbow. Her armored gloves are cold and nip my skin with goosebumps. "But why do you care so much about me anyway? You have other prisoners, for sure. Why do you haul me around everywhere? I“m not your pet. Just because I look like a cat—"

Her grip tightens. "Yes, you“re a cat. But that“s not what matters. Now is not the time to whine about your insecurities."

I get that a lot.

I can“t escape her hold, but I hop off the couch and wobble toward the door anyway. She whistles in my ear, humming something about secrets. Out of the corner of my eye, she smirks.

It makes me nervous.


The capitol building, unsurprisingly, is huge. All of it wide, white, empty space. The air here is too chilly, smells too strong of antiseptic. It makes me sneeze and I have to remind myself what wafting is and how to do it.

There are paintings and pillars, but they seem like backdrops, shrines for the heavy silence. The place feels haunted, like the place should be filled with the laughter and shrieks of the superheroes, and instead, it“s filled with their ghosts.

Downstairs, people in black chatter and toast with their coms. They fistbump, whoop, and plain talk. The excitement rolls off them, electric. Owl hangs her free arm over the banister, puffing her chest up just enough for me to notice. She smiles, her smirk forgotten. "For henchmen," she starts, patting me on the head with the very fingertips of her gloves. "They“re awful sweet."

The more I see Owl, the more I decide she“s all wrong. She“s a supervillain; her henchmen should be faceless, obedient drones. How can she care about them when she dragged them into this mess? When she threatend to kill them if they get out of line?

The cat ears clip back flat against my head, and when she drags me down the stairs, her henchmen fall silent.

The hostages are tucked flat beneath the stairs, facing out at the statue of the heroes. The heroes“ gleeful figures feel like an extra punch in the already sore gut. Men and women, tied up and

akes me clench the hilt harder, all the muscles in my shoulders squeaking in protest.

"I know you“re stubborn. And sneaky. Thinking you could keep my son away from me if he just came crying back to you." Owl“s voice goes tight. She turns on her heel, her hand snaking on to her hip, where she keeps her lasso. Her eyes flick over me, the sword. The glimmer in her eye is gone, and her frown makes me shudder. "I never meant to take this boy. I only want what belongs to me."

"This capitol doesn“t belong to you," I grumble. Owl“s good eye flashes and she squeezes the lasso, the smell of blood suddenly dizzying. I didn“t think the words through. Angel must be rubbing off on me. Fight. You“re James Bond trapped in a high schooler“s body! I can just imagine him saying it with a goofy smirk on his face, then the next line, the smirk replaced with a frown. Stab her. Stab her like you stabbed Heaven in the back.

Even in my imagination, that bit about backstabbing seems to be his favorite.

The hot fury in Owl“s face cools in her tight smile as she looks back at Jupes and Storm.

"Maybe you should know how it feels to have your only surviving child stolen from you."

My pulse pounds against the blade. Only surviving child? Jeez. I thought Juniper and Storm couldn“t have kids. Why else take in two boys who eat all your food and don“t pay rent?

Juniper lifts her voice, gasping to say something, but Owl shushes her with a finger to her lips. "Besides, doesn“t he deserve to know?"

Fear pounds through me with each pump of my heart, cold and sinewy. I haven“t felt safe for days, not a moment where the fear doesn“t dog me. And yet, I can“t help a growl. "Stop asking them questions if you don“t want them to answer."

"Now you“re disrespecting me?" Owl grins. It“s the type of grin you have to learn, like a villain laugh. All dark, worse than a smile and even a smirk. It makes all the psuedo-couarge shrivel up before it even brushes the surface. "Must be the food. I promise I won“t let you have any more of that for a while."

I bite back a whimper.

Juniper makes another sound, angrier this time. Owl turns back around, every muscle in my body itching for me to pick up the sword and lunge for the back of her neck. It may not do much. She may leave me to starve, but I want the option. I don“t like her calling the shots for me. I stare down at it.

"Surely, you may set your lives on a web of lies, but you shouldn“t raise children on them. She looks out the window, stretches her hands out in front of her. Her knuckles click, bringing a shiver to the back of my neck. "How easy webs fall apart."

The mayor raises her trembling voice. "I don“t have to hear—"

"Shut up, woman. One more word and I“ll tear you apart like a stuffed toy."

I flinch. The air is suddenly too thick to breathe.

Owl wheels toward me. I ease the sword off the floor, my forearms shaking with the effort. My She glances down at the weapon, then back to my face. "Felix, you really want to know about your parents?"

Not if it changes anything, I want to say, but the wound itches. "Of course."

"They“re the ones who made you who you are, oddities and all. They“re the ones that let you go for so many years, parentless, homeless—"

"I know my own damned history!" Beads of sweat collect on my face. The sword shakes, the tip flashing. Laughing, laughing, laughing. The villain whooshes back and touches her cool gloves to my neck, the chill making me shiver, inside and out. "Just tell me. One“s an assassin, the other“s a scientist. You think they“re cool. And they left me. Tell me, damn it!" My breathing turns sharp. A knife“s been twisting in my gut, and Owl just pulled it out. I want her to put it back to stop the bleeding.

She pats my hair down flat against the nape of my neck, the ears pricking against her touch. June looks up, flattened against the wall, her eyes big like discs. Storm“s closed-eyed in intense concentration, white hair stained red with blood. He groans.

"They never told you. Your Juniper“s experiment." Owl smiles sickly. "And her child."

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