Chapter 12: Friendly neighborhood super
“’We can talk about you giving your enemies silly codenames later’
’You mean like over coffee with Deathstroke and the Huntress?’”
~ Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) and Barry Allen (The Flash)
My mom was ecstatic when I told her my girlfriend invited us over to her house for Thanksgiving. She hadn’t met Elise yet, and it would also be a great way to introduce her parents as well.
The only problem was that mom wanted to bring Chad Hunter, my boss.
When Chad took over the Comic Book Shop, I was not excited. I was still depressed from Daniel’s passing, and I was not ready for someone to take his place. Daniel had been a father figure – more than just a boss. No one would ever be able to replace him.
And then they started dating. My mom and ‘Mr. Hunter’ were officially in a relationship. They told me a couple days after I enlisted Aden as my sidekick, so I’d known for a while now.
In my opinion, they were moving quickly. They’d already gone on multiple dates and Chad had been to my house for dinner already three times. Mom went to his as well, but I was always ‘too busy’ to attend. I had no intention on spending more time with my mother’s boyfriend who really hated me, both as a super and not.
(It’s really bad for your self-esteem, you know)
So, it also felt kind of weird that they were going to my girlfriend’s house for Thanksgiving together as well. I mean – maybe if they’d been dating for a couple months, but for one? It felt strange.
I knew it would always feel strange. My mom had to move on from my dad eventually. I felt selfish for hoping she never would. I wasn’t ready for her to love someone else besides my dad. They had been perfect, and they had been meant for each other. I couldn’t imagine her with anyone else besides him.
My dad died when I was young. He was a night security guard at a building residing in the bad part of town. One night he let me come with him. Coincidentally that was the same night the building got robbed. He told me to run outside to be safe, and I did. I had heard shots, but kept running. Outside I found the robbers’ truck. I had thought that maybe I could do something to stop the robbers, so I hid behind a light post to watch them.
And that was when a bolt of lightning from the raging thunderstorm hit the pole and electrocuted me.
I awoke in the hospital some time later with the news that I was miraculously alive and that my father had been shot by the robbers and died on the scene.
I developed my powers only a couple of weeks later. That was when Daniel first started to train me to be his sidekick, even though I didn’t officially help him on saves until I entered High School.
There was always a sense of dread that came along when I used my powers, though it was less now than it used to be. I had gotten them at the expense of my father’s life. It was a burden I always held, no matter what. My powers weren’t cheap. All good things come with a cost, right?
And even besides the fact that I probably wouldn’t have liked anyone my mom started dating after dad, I still felt like there was something off about Chad.
Chad wasn’t too kind about the supers, and I was starting to think that was where my mom was getting all her ideas from as well. Chad would always talk about how we were fine without the supers years ago, before the supers showed up. He didn’t understand why the government didn’t try and round them all up and experiment on them, or at least keep all the supers locked up away from society.
My mother agreed with him, but I didn’t think as fiercely as he did.
It was a trend I saw with a lot of the adults. Anyone over thirty seemed to be rooting for the Remedists to win the election next year. They all seemed to think that the events from the Revealing in Empire City meant that they couldn’t trust the supers anymore.
Just because your saviors in spandex happen to be younger than you, doesn’t mean that they are any less capable of saving the city. If those heroes had been their age, they wouldn’t have been able to do much saving. Imagine a superhero with arthritis and who complained about back pain all the time.
Yeah, not your ideal hero, right?
They just needed someone to blame for something. The supers had become scapegoats for society’s problems just because some of us were young. We had powers and we looked to be too young to use them in their eyes.
Detective Pearson was one of the only adults left who still believed in superheroes that I knew of. Every time Aden and I made a save, Detective Pearson would be there to congratulate us and help out. He headed the Super Task Force, so of course he would be happy we were getting rid of the super threats instead of him.
But, don’t get me wrong, there were still some in my generation who believed in what the Remedists believed in. They grew up with parents with the same ideals and had never been exposed to anything else, it wasn’t their fault.
I could only be thankful that most of the kids at Eldredge Academy were smart enough to know that the Remedists were in the wrong because they couldn’t blame all the supers for our problems.
“Honey, get in the car! We’re going to be late!” My mom yelled from down the street.
I sighed and ran after her. We didn’t really own a car. I mean – The Captain Cruiser kind of counted, but in its undercover state, it didn’t look too well. I only used the car to get to and from school, or at least that was what my mom thought. She walked to work two streets down, and I walked her there when I could. (It was a dangerous neighborhood, even with a resident super to guard it)
So, in short, we were taking Chad’s car.
It was, of course, a silver Mercedes. Chad just had to have a car that matched his personality.
I sat down scrunched up in the back while Chad drove and my mom chatted happily in the front seat. Chad and my mom talked like they were a teenage couple – it made me feel awkward and uncomfortable.
“Oh, and you’re coming to meet my friends on Saturday night at the Chime Brazilian Steakhouse, right? They’ve been dying to meet you.”
She smiled. “Definitely. I can’t wait to hear about those friends of yours you talk so much about.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “But don’t you have work on Saturday nights, mom?”
She nodded. “Yes, but Archie said he’d let me go on Saturday. He knows how important it is for me to go out and hang with adults my age instead of working at that God forsaken Super Burger the rest of my life.”
I was taken aback. Mom never missed work. Ever. Working at Super Burger was the only source of income we had besides my work at the Comic Book Shop. Daniel used to also wire us money when times were hard, but in small enough amounts that mom didn’t notice. She knew how important her work was. Heck, she’d even been saving for my college fund a penny at a time just in case I didn’t get a scholarship.
“Are you sure you want to miss work, mom?” I asked tentatively.
She shrugged it off. “We’ll be fine, honey. It’s just one day off of work.”
The conversation soon changed, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Something was different about my mom. Before Chad came she wasn’t like this. She might’ve thought Chad was perfect for her, but I wasn’t so sure. If he was using her in any way. I would find out.
By the time we reached Elise’s house, the conversation had turned back to a safe topic. I was still itching to get out of the car though. I wanted to be near Elise, even though it had only been two days since I’d last seen her.
Elise’s little brother, Luke, answered the door. He was wearing the Captain Impossible outfit Elise had bought him for his birthday at the Comic Book Shop.
I remembered the party. As Captain Impossible and White Lightning, Daniel and I had showed up to surprise Luke. The Howertons were rich and powerful enough to where it was believable that one of the parents asked us to come and surprise the kids, so our identities weren’t at risk. The kids were excited to see real life heroes. Most just wanted to hit Captain Impossible with hard objects just to prove he really was indestructible.
That was also the day when he died. After the party, I went and met up with Delinquent. Not so soon after that Eric called me to help with a robbery. Three guys in clown masks were robbing the bank, and one had super strength. He stuck a mixture of Merlonium and some of the world’s deadliest poisons into the inside of Daniel’s mouth to make sure he died.
He was hired by someone called The Obstructer to kill both of us. When he failed to kill me, he ‘committed suicide’ in his cell at the police precinct. The Obstructer next hired Andromeda to attempt to kill me, and then Delinquent when she refused to join Andromeda. I hadn’t seen Andromeda in weeks, and I had a sinking suspicious she was either dead or on the run for not killing us. And it also seemed like the new super villain, Inferno, might’ve been hired to kill us as well. With the rage for us he has inside him, I would be surprised if he wasn’t hired for the job because of something the ‘superheroes’ had done to him, like Andromeda claimed happened to her.
“Hello, Mrs. Storm, my name is Carrie. Nice to meet you.” Elsie’s mother greeted us in.
“Good afternoon. You can call me Sharon, and this is my boyfriend, Chad Hunter. I’m sure you already know my son, Oliver.”
I smiled in a greeting, but she barely gave me a glance.
“Luke! Come back here this instant!” She sighed and looked to my mom, “I’m sorry about that, but I swear he’s a mini demon. He won’t take that damned costume off unless he’s at school. He seems to believe that since one of that hero’s last stops was his birthday party it makes him responsible to become the next Captain Impossible. Only Elise can get him to take it off.”
I stifled a laugh as Luke came running up to his mother with a goofy grin. His mask was slightly crooked and he was missing a shoe. How could anyone be annoyed with this kid?
“Oliver, may you please take Luke to Elise’s room? You know where it is.” She said with an exasperated sigh.
I knelt down to Luke’s eye level and smiled at him. “Hey, buddy. You want to do something fun?”
“It’s called airplane. If you get on my back, you can fly like The Marvel.”
Luke’s eyes brightened and he climbed on me immediately. I chuckled and sprinted up the stairs and down the hall to Luke’s room, making swooshing noises the entire time. Luke was giggling so much that he sounded a bit like a demented demon.
When I finally set him down on the floor of his room, he demanded more airplane rides.
“Now, Luke, you have to get dressed for dinner, mommy’s orders.”
He pouted. “But I don’t want to!”
I gave him a look. “I’ll make a deal with you. If you get dressed in the nice clothes your mom set out for you and don’t make a fuss, I’ll give you even more Marvel rides. Deal?”
Luke seemed to consider this for a moment before grinning. He grabbed his clothes from his bed and went to his bathroom to change without a second thought.
“Wow, so superheroes are good with children too. What else could I ask for in a man?”
I turned and saw Elise standing in the doorway. She was wearing a dark green dress with black heels and belt. Her hair was curled and her smile as bright as ever.
“Wow, I thought those home commercials were joking when they show people dressing up nice just to sit at their own table.”
She laughed. “You don’t clean up too bad yourself.”
I looked down at my polo. “What? This old thing?”
“Stop it, Oliver. If I smile too much, my family will think this dinner is actually enjoyable.”
I grinned and walked up to her. “That’s too bad, because tonight it will be my mission to make you smile as much as possible.”
I leaned down and put my lips against hers softly. It felt so natural that I didn’t know how I could hold myself back before we were dating.
We pulled away, laughing, as Luke squealed.
“I guess I’ll just have to find another time to take advantage of you.” I said jokingly to Elise. She smiled again and hit my arm – hard.
“Remember?” she whispered in my ear. “I’m a big bad super now, you can’t beat me.”
I leaned down and whispered back, “Yes, but so am I.”
She narrowed her eyes at me and stuck her tongue out. “Yes, and you’d still let me win anyways.”
I leaned down for another kiss, but Elise pulled away. “No. You won’t get any kisses until after dinner, Mister. Let’s go on down before the food gets cold.”
Then maybe I’ll just have to steal a kiss later.