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   Chapter 2

Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 8759

Updated: 2017-12-05 12:05


So here“s a tip: if you ever find yourself jammed in a hybrid Prius beside an ex-supervillain enemy, love interest, tormenter, life saver (it“s complicated) and your cat-guy best friend, bring some conversation starters. Because it gets awkward. Fast. "Guess how much a polar bear weighs?" I ask. Silence. "Enough to break the ice."

Storm chuckles, but Gats dips his chicken nugget in his barbecue sauce without casting so much as a glance in my direction. He sits across me, a napkin draped across his lap and each sauce spread in a strategic circle on his knees. It“s like Clash of Clans: McDonald“s edition. Bah. Dainty eater. I finished my four Quarter Pounders as soon as I got them. What can I say? I“m finally up for this Olympic eating stuff.

Between us, Jaylin stares cryptically at the ceiling in true Jaylin fashion, back straight, hands clasped, exposed arms coffee-filter pale. So stiff and frozen, she reminds me of a garden statue, or an ice sculpture, or another inanimate object that“s supposed to be stiff and frozen. I risk another glance. Her hands shake. If I say something to her, I don“t know if I“ll see her Catalyst side or Jaylin side. Just the perks of hanging with a psychologically damaged sociopath. I“m no better, I guess, with Dark Side and all.

I decide I“ll do anything to kill the silence, even the unthinkable: stealing food. I snatch Gats“ nugget box. I wolf down two pieces, chewing loudly, slurping grease off my fingers. "Hey!" Gats lunges over Jaylin. I lift the nugget box over his head. "You barbarian!" he shrieks. I burst out laughing. "Give it back!"

"Boys," June says, her voice laced with venom.

"Why don“t we talk about it?" I ask. He flails, his seatbelt holding him back from strangling me. His face has gone all red, eyes buggy. There“s so much rage there I sigh and hand him back his food. He hisses as he snatches the box, cradling it to his chest like a beloved pooch. Jaylin shifts in her seat, grumbling under her breath. "What?" I ask. "Am I too immature for you?"

"That and a hundred other million things." She sounds like an old lady.

"Too...sexy?" I wink. Four groans erupt around me in response. When no one says anything else, I keep talking. "Can someone say something, please?"

Gats explodes. "I“m trying to mentally prepare! What if I can“t wake Hev up? What if she wakes up and realizes I“m just a cat freak that doesn“t deserve her? She“s a superhero, for Starlight“s sake! Maybe she won“t even wake up at--"

"Chill," Jaylin says, "he wants a conversation, not your self-esteem issues."

I shrug, my wings tingling against my back. "I“ll take self-esteem issues. Why don“t we talk about feelings or crap? I don“t know." Anything“s better than sitting in this silence. I thump my leg.

"Okay," Jay says, "I feel Angel“s an idiot who looks like a pirate-demon."

"Yo-ho-ho," Gats says under his breath. I roll my good eye, recoiling on the inside.

"Jaylin," June says, "you know he“s sensitive about that!" I cringe. I want to ask her to stop talking, but the words stick in my throat. Truth is, between the eye-patch and the glowing wings I spent forty minutes stuffing under my coat, Jaylin“s “pirate-demon“ description is pretty darn accurate.

You see, in the last installment of "Life of a teenage supervillain eugenics experiment," my mother poked out my eye and I grew wings. If you“re staring at your screen, question marks blazing in your eyes, I“ll try to explain this whole situation real quick.

There“s me and Gats, we“re two supervillain experiments. Only he has cat ears and a weird tendency to meow stuff when he“s scared, and I have wings and a Dark Side that likes to show up when I“m mad. My supervillain biological parents want to kidnap us, but we“re just so uncooperative and cool like that we spent 90,000 or so words kicking their sorry butts (Well, maybe they were doing the most kicking, but we got in a punch or two). But enough about us guys. Jaylin“s here too, pretty and scary as heck. She“s an ex-supervillain and, well, it“s complicated. Then there“s Heaven. She“s a superhero who sacrificed herself to save Gats, and now she“s in the hospital asleep in some sort of healing coma. So there you have it. Our fierce foursome.

Anyway, after Jaylin drugged me (long complicated story), she brought my home. I slept for three days, woke up, loo

ked in the mirror, saw my right eye whited out like a zombie“s, and lost it. Storm had to hold me back as I kicked and hollered and swung like a Rock“em Sock“em robot. I might have blacked out once or twice during the whole episode so I“m blaming Dark Side on that one. Since then, June and Storm have been watching me pretty closely. And I have to wear an eyepatch. Like my mother. "Your eye“s healing," June said, "you“ll only wear the patch for a week or two...or three."

So yeah. The itchy patch, the seeing out of one eye, the looking like my psychotic mother (and a midday soap opera star), it all takes some getting used to.

"Sorry, ma“am," Jaylin says.

"I know this adjustment has been rough on you. We“ll bring those villains to justice."

Jaylin runs her fingers down the seam of her jeans. "They“re my friends," she says. Her shoulders sag, and for a moment I can“t help but feel a smidge of pity.

Storm turns from the front passenger seat. His glasses flash as the sun passes through the window. "They tormented you."

"I was weak."

Storm shakes his head. "You didn“t deserve that."

She stares at her lap. "Maybe I did." I reach out to touch her. Even with everything she did to me, I can“t hate her, even though I want to. I have no self-respect, if I ever did, it fled with my Dark Side. Now, she could bust me out of the car and take me to her HQ and I wouldn“t so much as bat my arm at her. Besides, she sacrificed everything to save me. If she screwed up my life, well, I did the same to her sevenfold. She knocks my hand away. "I“m a traitor, so there“s obviously something wrong with me."

"You saved Angelos," June says, "maybe even the world."

At that, Jay howls. Tears poke her eyes. "Right, like Syndicate or Snare would use him to threaten the world. Maybe they wanted him to rob banks with his tele-stuff or something."

June and Storm share a glance. Only quick one, as June“s doing the driving. "Poor, innocent child," Storm says.

Jaylin snaps her head up. "Excuse me?" Gats cups his hands over his face, giggling like a princess. I just lean back, staring at my scarred-up hands. "I am not--"

"Back-talking the people who decided to shelter you instead of turning you in to the police, I hope," June says.

At that, Jay goes even stiffer, her clenched fists shaking. "No, ma“am."

June pulls into the hospital parking lot and flashes a smile over her shoulder. "Good."

When June finds a spot, we flop out of the little car. We“re only a speck in the sea of vehicles, so many people here it“s a little jarring. I think of Hev lying on one of the hospital beds, maybe dying. My chest tightens. I stare at the mass of glass windows that stretch to the sky. Starlight City Medical Center. Gats tugs his beanie, wiping invisible dust off his slate blazer. He turns to me. "How do I look?"

I give him my best smile. "Snazzy." For the longest time, we stand there, admiring the huge, beautiful hospital and thinking about the people inside. The wind blows, and I almost miss my long mane. June sips her coffee, Storm flips through his phone, and at last, Jay speaks to me. "Scared?" she asks.

"Of what? Hev never waking up, the parent thing, us, Dark Side, or Hev again?"

Jay shrugs. "All of it."

My wings ache for flight. In truth, I“m sick of being scared, but Hev“s my best friend. Even if she lied to me about the superhero thing, I just want her to be okay. I let out a breath. "Yeah." Jaylin looks up at me and puts her hand on mine. I shiver. It“s small and smooth and warm, not shaky and sweaty like mine. I take it into my grasp, feeling the thump of her pulse against my skin. It“s dizzying.

She points toward the sprawling building with her free hand. "Ready?"

"Let“s go."

***

So welcome to book two! I expect it to move very quickly, so I wanted to kick it off with a shorter, not-so-dramatic chapter. I“m writing this as I go, so I“ll be posting every Friday. I might switch to bi-weekly updates, but we“ll see :)

With that being said, I“d like to say MUSIC_IS_FREEDOM has offered to write a blurb on her blog about meh books, which is very, very awesome of her! She also has (pretty darn well written and insightful) book reviews of bestsellers up like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and the Divergent series. So if you“re interested in that, here“s a link!

Happy reading!

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