I'm No Superman

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Chapter Twenty-One

A white dazzling light awoke Aiden from his sleep, blinding him and blurring his vision. The room seemed to not have an opening or an end. It dragged on forever, with the smell of fresheners polluting the air. The sweet sensation almost made Aiden gag. A familiar voice broke his timid concentration.

“Aiden?”

His eyes darted around, but he couldn’t move. He shook vigorously in his position paralyzed by fear.

“I know you’re scared son, but don’t worry, it will all be okay.”

The voice belonged to a woman, like someone who knew him. A sinking feeling took its place in Aiden’s gut, making its way all across his body like a virus. He felt numb, and almost ill. The voice continued.

“You aren’t dead, you know,”

Aiden turned around to see her standing behind him; he knew it was no good running for her again, so he just stayed perfectly still.

“If I’m not dead, then where am I?”

“Like always son, you’re just dreaming”

Aiden looked straight ahead at the woman, she stood there with a warm embrace, rose cheeks and curly brown hair that fell down to her shoulders. She was beautiful.

“Mum?”

She smiled at him. “Strange, the only thing you see in here is us.”

Aiden smiled back and walked closer to her, taking baby steps. “Well, my mind has not exactly been in the best of places recently.”

She stood still. “Where has it been? In the clouds, like normally?”

Aiden chuckled. “You could say that”

She started to walk towards him; Aiden closed his eyes and pinched himself, wondering if he was in a dream. When his eyes opened, she was about an inch away from him. The smell of vanilla leapt off her, relaxing Aiden at his core.

“I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t real”

A small tear fell from Aiden’s eyes. He looked away quickly to wipe it, but his mum put her delicate hand to his face, wiping any tear away.

“I’m so sorry,”

“Now, now, what have you got to be sorry about?”

Aiden sighed. “Recently, a lot of things. I’ve been selfish, I’ve pushed away friends I really don’t deserve, I’ve gotten a gift that I could use to help people, but I choose not to. I just keep making mistakes”

She held his head in her arms, allowing him to rest it on her shoulders. She felt cold, like a ghost. Aiden looked ahead as she comforted him.

“I should have listened to Alison, then maybe none of this would have happened”

His mum released her grip and raised her eyebrow at him. “Aiden”

Aiden lifted his head and looked into her eyes. “Yeah?”

“Since when did you ever listen to anyone else?”

Aiden smiled as a tear fell down his cheek.

“You know, what happened to me was definitely not your fault, you were young, there was nothing you could have done. All the people we love will die eventually, but we have to be strong and embrace life while we still can, not just sit around waiting for the final curtain to fall”

Aiden continued smiling.

“You know what’s funny about all of this?” she stated.

Aiden perked up. “What’s that?”

“It’s that I’m in your head.”

“I guess I miss you” He shrugged. “That’s all.”

She smiled at him. “I know you miss me, I’m sure I miss you too, but remember what I told you. I’m not real; I’m just a figment of your thoughts. All these things I’m saying, you know to be true.”

Aiden looked astounded for a minute, but then began to accept it. “I’ve never really thought about it that way before.”

She looked at him with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.

“Oh wait, I have, haven’t I?”

She stood up and walked away from Aiden.

“Wait, Mum. Where are you going?”

“I’m not going anywhere, that’s the thing, I’m always here with you.”

“Please don’t go, I need you right now. I can’t do this on my own.”

She continued to walk ahead, her brown hair flowing from side to side with each stride. Aiden thought hard, maybe if he concentrated hard enough, he could keep her here for longer. She kept on walking, albeit slowing down to look back at her son one last time. Her blue eyes sparkled in his face. It was almost like looking in a mirror.

“That’s the thing, you never lost me, and if you spend the whole of your life trying to find me again, you’ll just end up running around in circles and lose those who matter now. Your dad, your friends, Alison.”

Aiden’s ears perked up. “Why do you mention her? She’s my friend too.”

“I think you know the answer to that one, son.”

Within seconds, Aiden snapped back to reality. The warmth he had previously felt was now replaced with a cool breeze and the feeling of a mattress beneath his body. He opened his eyes and breathed heavily to see he was lying on a hospital bed. Before he even had a chance to come back to reality, he could hear footsteps running towards him. It was Alison.

The scent of vanilla got stronger as she rushed to his side, wrapping his arms around him. “Oh my god, you’re awake!”

Her face felt wet and was blushing red. She wiped her eyes quickly and continued holding onto him. Aiden wrapped her arms around her as a warm feeling made it’s way around his body.

“Yeah, it looks like I am.”

As she pulled away, Aiden exhaled heavily. He could sense a hint of worry in her eyes. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“A little sore, but I feel okay. Can you guys remember what happened?”

“We found you and your dad passed out. You hit your head pretty bad. Michael called the ambulance right away, he’s waiting outside.”

Her voice turned to a hoarse whisper. “I was so scared Aiden, you weren’t waking up. I thought you were...you know?”

Aiden smirked at her with a wink in his eye. “You don’t get rid of me that easily.”

Alison’s cheeky smile soon returned to her face. Michael walked into the room followed by a young doctor carrying a clipboard.

“Look who decided to wake up” He walked over and tapped Aiden in the shoulder. “You alright, buddy? That was one hell of a scare you gave us.”

Aiden saw bags under Michael’s eyes, as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. “Yeah, I feel fine, how long was I out?”

The doctor rushed to his side. “I wouldn’t get up that quick. You were out for a good three hours, when you came in you were out cold. We found traces of Temazepam in your system.”

Alison’s eyes widened. “What? What the hell is that?”

“It’s a Class C sleeping pill, very powerful. We think it’s why he fell asleep, but if you can think of anything that happened beforehand, it would be beneficial.”

Aiden’s eyes sunk to the floor and he sighed quietly. “No, I don’t really remember.”

“Short term amnesia is common in the cases of a concussion, you let us know if you remember.”

Aiden sat up, clenching his abdomen. “Doctor, where’s my dad?”

The doctor looked through his keyboard. “Ahh, Andrew Malcolm, yes, he’s in one of our other rooms. We’re keeping him here overnight. He suffers from cancer, correct?” He never looked up from his clipboard. Alison looked astounded.

Aiden looked away from him. “Can’t I stay with him?”

“Well, you seem fine, son, but we can’t keep you here, we need this bed for other patients. Besides you have school in a few hours.”

Aiden sighed. “Don’t I get a mandatory time off for being knocked out?”

The doctor sighed. “Oh, the new generation. Good to see you didn’t lose your sense of humour.”

Alison spoke up. “Come and stay with us tonight, we have the room.” She looked at Michael, probably putting on her puppy dog eyes. “Is that okay?”

Looking away, Michael swallowed heavily. “Yeah, of course. Come on dude, let’s get you out of here.”

He walked over to Aiden and helped him up. He picked up some of his things from the side table, putting them in his backpack. The doctor turned to him before he left.

“Aiden, be a bit more careful out there. You aren’t Superman, you know” he said.

Aiden looked back at him and gave off the slightest hint of a smile. “Believe me doc, I know,”

The car ride was one of the longest journeys Aiden had ever been on. He said nothing on the way there. Alison sat in the front with her feet on the dashboard, allowing Aiden to lie down in the back. Michael seemed too focused on the road to say a word. Aiden had never been round to the Montgomery household, which felt strange, as he had been a part of their lives for a very long time. All he knew was they lived in a penthouse about half an hour from Aiden’s apartment. It was the one thing their parents had left them before going back to the States.

The penthouse was something else though. As Michael opened the door, Aiden was met with a large neon white room, containing a sleek modern black kitchen, several leather couches, fur carpets, a dining table and chairs made entirely of glass and a large window sporting the best view you could get of London.

Sadly, his mind was too frazzled to take it all in. Even the perfect skyline in front of him couldn’t cheer him up. He took a while to explore the house whilst Michael went into the kitchen, turning on the kettle. Alison just stood still with her hands in her pockets, staring at the ground.

Michael emerged from the kitchen holding a black mug. “Aiden, you can take my room upstairs, I’ll take the couch down here.”

Aiden took the mug and mumbled under his breath.

“Don’t worry mate, it’s just hot chocolate.”

“Thanks Mike, but you don’t have to do that, I’ll be fine taking the couch, I don’t want to be any more trouble”

“Don’t be ridiculous mate, you think I’m gonna let you loose with my game and movie collection? It’s no bother having you here, I insist, take my room, it’s awesome.”

Aiden took a sip of his hot chocolate. It burned his tongue slightly. He resisted at first, but it felt good to feel something, even if it was pain.

“Al, you just going to bed?”

She raised her arms and yawned. “Yeah, good night.”

“Night then sis” Michael replied, giving her a quick hug. “Can you show Aiden to his room?”

“Yeah, no problem, Aiden, it’s up here” Alison said, leading him upstairs. Aiden followed still carrying his hot chocolate.

Aiden walked up the stairs to his room, even the staircase looked modern. It was made out of see through glass held together by a slick black frame. As comfortable as the room looked, he knew he was not going to get any sleep tonight. His day had already been too much of a nightmare.

Michael’s room was huge, it was like the size of Aiden’s whole apartment, sporting a king size bed, several posters of old rock stars like Jimmy Page and Kurt Cobain, a Mac computer waiting in the corner and a set of varied amplifiers, one with a guitar plugged in. He heard Alison’s footsteps behind him.

“Don’t play that, it’s a little late now.”

She chuckled slightly before quieting down. Silence filled the room. Aiden couldn’t bring himself to turn and crack a joke. He just stared into space.

“Well, I’ll be right across the hall if you need anything, night” she said, going off into the other room.

When the door closed, Aiden instantly plummeted onto the bed. He didn’t even bother taking off his shirt to get comfortable. He just lay there, gazing up at the ceiling. A thousand thoughts ran through his head. What had happened to him? Why did he pass out? Was his dad going to make it? Was it really his fault? He had a right mind to get on the Mac and call up Quentin Lloyd, he desperately needed answers, but he didn’t want to wake up Michael or Alison, they had done so much for him tonight, it was best for him to just remain silent and let them sleep.

He felt a little better since the hot chocolate. He looked at his hand and saw a quick spark leave from it. He hadn’t lost his powers. The funny thing was that Aiden would trade all of the powers he had gained from the serum just for one sign to know his dad was going to be okay.

A few more minutes passed, and he just spent that time fidgeting, not getting comfortable, there was no way he was going to get to sleep in this state.

He got up from the bed and tiptoed down the stairs. He was almost startled by Michael’s snoring. It sounded like a cross between a train and someone putting gravel through a blender. He smiled a bit as he strolled into the kitchen, noticing that Michael had left the cocoa powder out on the kitchen top. The kettle was still slightly hot, so Aiden pressed it to let it boil a little more.

Luckily for him it only took a few seconds. He poured himself another mug of the warm beverage, adding in a lot of sugar for the energy he needed. Behind him was a door leading to a balcony. He realized he could do with some fresh air, so he walked out.

The cold air of London hit his face like a blizzard, cooling it down somehow managed to do a bit more for his stress levels. He stared out at the street, thinking about how life would be if he actually did use his powers to help people.

“Can’t sleep, eh superstar?”

Without a surprise, it was Alison. Aiden turned around and just smiled. She was wearing the Spider-Man pyjama top Aiden had got her for her fifteenth birthday, along with the matching bottoms. Her hair was slightly messy. Strands of her fringe were getting into her eyes. Despite everything that had happened tonight, seeing that did bring a smile to his face. “Cute PJ’s”

“You would know, wouldn’t you? You’re the one who got them for me.”

She walked over to him and stared out at the night sky. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

Aiden looked back at her, her green eyes sparkled back at him like emeralds.

“I’ve seen better” he said.

Alison looked at him and smiled back, blushing as she did. “Have you?,”

Aiden kept staring out at the night sky, trying to keep his mind off things that were sure to haunt him for the later hours of the night.

“I can’t even begin to imagine how you feel now, buddy.”

Aiden turned back to Alison, a sinking feeling stuck in his gut. Alison put her hand on his shoulder. “So I won’t pretend to, but you know I’m here for you”.

“I know, feeling’s mutual, Al.”

“You’ve been there for me enough” Aiden once again said nothing; he took a few more sips of his hot chocolate.

Alison pulled her hair back and looked over at the mug. “Can I have a sip of that?”

Without complaining, Aiden offered the mug to her. She took a sip and immediately recoiled, sticking her tongue out and gagging. “Jeez Aiden, how much sugar did you put in that? I don’t remember you going through a breakup recently”

Aiden smirked. “You asked for it.”

“Well you keep this.” Alison remarked, giving the mug back to him. “I’ll go make my own.”

She turned away and Aiden looked back. He tried not to stare, but couldn’t help it.

After a few minutes, Alison walked back outside holding a pink mug with a bunny on it.

“You still kept that?” Aiden asked.

“Of course I kept it. I always kept your birthday presents.”

Aiden sighed heavily, closing his eyes. “Al, you were right,”

Alison looked puzzled as she turned to him. “About what?”

“Me being a hero, I should have done that, I shouldn’t have used these for personal gain. I just shouldn’t have, look where it got me.”

He was nearing tears now. His face felt warm and puffy, he immediately rubbed his eyes, stinging them slightly as he did. He could tell Alison was pretending not to notice.

She put her hand on his shoulder. “Aiden, listen to me. Tonight wasn’t your fault.”

Aiden looked down at the floor, seeing Alison’s bandage. “It wouldn’t be the first time I got someone I care about hurt.”

She crouched down and rubbed her ankle slightly. “This wasn’t your fault either.”

“If I hadn’t brought you to do parkour when we were kids, you’d be able to walk without pain. If I hadn’t been at the yard tonight, my dad wouldn’t have been there. If I hadn’t let Chad get to me, I wouldn’t have these powers in the first place. If I hadn’t been such a gullible idiot tonight, my dad wouldn’t be laid up in hospital!” The tears were in full circle now. Aiden put his hands over his face to try and cover it, but it was too obvious now.

“The one thing that I wanted to be responsible for, and I screw it up. I’m sorry I never told you about his cancer. I wanted to, so many times. But I guess I’m too good at keeping things bottled up.”

Alison took the mug away from him and placed hers down on the ground, she then walked towards Aiden and gave him another one of her famous hugs. It was funny this time though; Aiden had opened his arms first. All he needed now was the embrace of his friend.

“Aiden, your dad is going to be fine, I know it.”

“How do you know it?”

“Because I don’t think this world is cruel enough to let Andrew Malcolm die without seeing what you’ve become.”

“Alison, I told you, I’m not a hero.”

“That’s not what I mean, Aiden. Never in my entire life have I known anyone as determined, or as brave, or as selfless as you. I was wrong to call you selfish, because that’s the last thing you are. When you stood up for me in front of Scarlett, and raced Chad even though you didn’t want to, that was brave and you were determined to stick up for me for no other reason than you cared. You don’t have to be a superhero for that kind of thing to matter.”

Her lip began quivering. “You’re my best friend all the same, you big idiot.”

Aiden smiled. “I don’t deserve you.”

Alison put her hands on his shoulders. He looked up at her, with a tear falling from his eye. She wiped it away.

“Yes you do, you’ve gone through so much shit in your life. You deserve a great friend, and I only hope I fill that gap for you.”

Aiden took a deep breath and lowered his voice. “You do more than fill it, you complete it.”

“We are not going to give up. Your dad is going to be fine, and you are still going to win that contest, no matter what. You know why? Because even if Aiden Malcolm isn’t some kind of superhero, or even the best parkourer, he is definitely the best person in the world I know, and I know he is anything but a quitter.”

Alison took another sip of her mug and put it back on the ground, she then picked up Aiden’s. He turned away, accidentally knocking it out of her hand. The mug then shattered into pieces on the tiles.

Aiden’s stomach tightened. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” He leant down to pick up the pieces.

Alison looked at him and giggled. “Don’t worry about it. It was my dad’s mug anyway, I never liked it.”

Both of them started sorting pieces of the mug into a pile to make it easier to pick it up, avoiding the liquid, which had gone from red-hot to freezing cold. There was one final broken piece left, and both Aiden and Alison reached for it at the same time, touching hands. They then looked at each other. A green sparkle met a blue glow. Aiden’s breath was taken from his lungs; the cold temperature almost froze his hand to Alison’s.

She didn’t change her expression. “Do you want to take this or should I?”

Aiden couldn’t let go. He looked down at her hand. “Oh, you can take it.”

Alison smiled. “Deal”

Without warning Alison leant in closer to Aiden’s face, seemingly wanting him to get closer. Aiden’s nerves rattled, his frozen hand shaking in Alison’s palm. Within the time span of two seconds, she crawled over closer to him, bringing her face in perfect alignment with his, and then put her lips to his, and closed her eyes as if she had no second thought on her mind.

Aiden immediately felt like he was in a dream, but he closed his eyes and embraced the reality, letting the fireworks in his mind go off like a spectacle. His entire body tingled, numbing his limbs further.

It was a good kiss, although both of them tasted like hot chocolate. The sweetness managed to add to it in a funny way. Aiden brought his hand to Alison’s face as she continued. Her face was cold, and she grabbed his hand holding it tighter, turning his skin from warm to cold. A few more seconds passed, and they stopped and looked at each other.

“Wow.”

Alison’s eyes glistened as she smiled at him. She opened and closed her mouth almost instantaneously, before holding his hand tighter. “Aiden…I love you”

Aiden felt like he’d been punched in the chest, he desperately wanted to say those three words back in return for that great kiss, but he just couldn’t help himself from stumbling.

Aiden looked down at the ground and back up again. His fingers wouldn’t stop shaking. “I...I...I...”

“Am surprised? I know, me too, not bad though, you’re a pretty good kisser.”

She got up and put her hand out, helping him up. “Come on, it’s late, we should get to bed”

Aiden took her hand and smiled.

Alison winked at him. “And by that, I don’t mean my bed, that was all you’re getting tonight”. The cheeky smile brought more of the butterflies to Aiden’s stomach. Alison walked through the doorway, letting Aiden in and shutting it behind her.

Both of them walked up to their rooms, and before they went in, they turned around and looked at each other one more time. They didn’t say anything, but both timidly waved at each other. Aiden still had a lot on his mind, but after that, at least he could say he went to sleep sporting a smile on his face.

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