To say I limped home would not be an exaggeration. Every part of my body ached, to the point that I created a pair of crutches to help. Not that my arms were in any better condition than my legs. Every step on the way to my car was agony, and I embraced it. After what I tried to pull with Chloe, I knew I deserved it.
I tried to control her, and in the process drove her off. It was stupid, pathetic, and childish, and I should have known better. In fact, I did know better. I knew she was planning to go back to her family, at least for the funeral, and I should have respected her wishes.
Once again, letting my emotions get the better of me has fucked everything up. It would be better if I didn’t have them at all.
I made it to my vehicle after what felt like hours. On the plus side, for what plus could be found here, the movement kept my muscles from tightening up. I didn’t bother checking to see if I was being watched before I shifted the metal off my vehicle and myself. Right now, secret identities were the least of my concern.
A quick glance in the mirror confirmed I looked as bad as I felt. My eyes were their usual solid silver, but the rest of my face was haggard and bruised. A medical professional would drive themselves to a hospital and make sure there was no internal bleeding. An intelligent man would get someone else to drive, for fear of blacking out on the road.
So I’m not only stupid, I’m a shit doctor.
I shifted into gear and drove home. It was a small miracle that I made it home at all, let alone in one piece. I barely spent any thought on driving, instead thinking of all the things I did wrong.
To start with, I never should have gotten into an argument with Quash. I knew he was a racist sack of shit, everyone at the meeting knew he was a racist sack of shit. I knew I was making a complete ass of myself, with nothing worthwhile to gain, and I did it anyway.
I didn’t go for my temporary home in the garage; instead I went straight into the house. My clothes were sticky from sweat, and I couldn’t be certain I didn’t pee myself at some point during the confrontation with Quash. It being a Saturday, I had the house to myself. Nanna was at the church doing volunteer work and Bea was out being Bea.
I hit the shower immediately, grateful that I thought bring a change of clothes, and then began the slow, painful ascent to what was again my bedroom. Chloe hadn’t left much mark; most of her stuff remained in a box in the corner. I plopped down face first in my bed, on Chloe’s pillow, and inhaled. She left her scent behind.
“I am the dumbest fuck in the world.”
“My greatest regret in life-” I flipped over and my body made me regret it. Beatrice was standing in the doorway. “-will be that I didn’t have a voice recorder at this moment.”
I pulled a blanket over my chest. I had pants on, but not a shirt. We weren’t a family that was comfortable with walking in on each other half dressed. “What are you doing home?”
She leaned against the door frame. “Well, first Chloe freaks out, then you go to comfort her, then both of you duck out of the house without any explanation. I figured I’d just chill at the crib ’til you got back. So, where’s your les-boo?”
Les-boo? That’s a new one. Fuck, I need to find a way out of this. “Her mom died.”
“Her mother was Starfall?!”
“No!” If you look for me in the Guinness record books, you’ll find me under World’s Worst Liar. “No, her mom’s death was on the second page, you can go check it yourself.”
If I had claim on worst liar, then Beatrice was going to sweep the ‘smuggest smirk’ competition. “You mean the page she’d need x-ray vision to read? Besides, it’s obvious her mom and Starfall are the same person. Which probably means some weird superpower drama. You should read the gossip pages on you Imbued, it’s like the best soap opera, only better because it’s real life.”
Us Imbued. “Umm, I’m not-”
“Please, bro.” Bea just shook her head. “I, unlike you, am not the dumbest fuck in the universe. You somehow pick up a hot girlfriend the night a new super crashed face first in front of a movie theater, an’ you like to run off with her at weird times, but I know she ain’t puttin’ out. Either you got powers, or she’s pimpin’ you out to her friends. Which, hey, wouldn’t judge ya, but have you seen the kind of women that pay for sex? Yuck.”
I don’t think I want to know. “There are other reasons for guys and girls to hang out alone than sex, Bea.” Now that the surprise had faded, I could put on a more commanding tone. It didn’t hurt that I was starting to get annoyed.
“I keep hearin’ people say that, but I ain’t seen it happen.” Bea kept her position in the doorway. “And lest we forget, like two weeks after Chloe moves in, some scary metal dude and a short glowing chick with, and I quote, ‘abs you could grind meat on’ show up like a minute after Ian shot Val. Then the crazy bitch beats the shit out of Ian, like Chloe did to Ro’. Your fake girlfriend is a violent racist, in case you didn’t notice.”
I wanted to defend Chloe, but I did not a leg to stand on. Better to worry about arguments I could win. “Ian and Ro both deserved worse than they got. But that don’t prove any-”
“By the way, you left your glasses in the bathroom. Or you gonna say you got contacts now?”
God damn everything. I brought my hands up to my face, not because I expected to hide my eyes, but because I didn’t want to show my face. “I really am the dumbest fuck on the planet.”
“Oh, yes,” Bea sighed. “When I am old and gray an’ cain’t even remember my own kids’ faces, I’ll still have those words to comfort me.”
“Okay, you win, whatever. I don’t fucking care.” God I sound like such a whiny brat. “She’s gone now, so get your gloating while it’s good and leave me alone.”
“She’ll be back.” What. I moved my hands from my face. Bea had stepped into the room, then sat down on the edge of my bed. “She ran away from a posh mansion and billionaire parents, one of whom’s a superhero. Unless Starfall was diddling her daughter, I bet whatever reason she had for running is still there. Bet you like five grand she’s crawling back in a week or two.”
I ignored the part where there was no way either of us had that kind of cash to bet. “You think so?” As insightful as Bea had proven she could be when not in total bitch mode, I even allowed myself to hope she might be right.
“Yup. And when she does, I want you to tell her to take her uptight, well-toned ass as far away from here as her little legs can fly her.”
Should have seen that coming. “I know you don’t like her, but-”
“I like her just fine,” Beatrice cut me off. “But she doesn’t belong here. She thinks of this shithole neighborhood as a fun place for a vacation, which is how you know she don’t belong here. Better to cut her loose so she can do her crazy revenge on her own time without dragging you into it.”
To be fair, as far as crazy revenge goes, it’s not that- “Wait. How the hell did you know?”
Bea raised an eyebrow. “Dom, please. She’s a crazy violent bitch, and I’m also a crazy violent bitch. If someone gave me powers and pointed me in the direction of the bastard who murdered Mom, what do you think I’m gonna do first?”
Why is it I hate her most when she’s right? “Kick in my door and brag about how your power’s a thousand times better than mine?”
Bea sat there for a second as a smile rose on her face. “Okay, yeah, that is what I’d do first.” She pointed a finger at the ceiling. “But the second thing I’d do is hunt him down and slap him around for a few hours. Maybe cut off a few of his fingers. Get that one buddy of yours at school to rape him.”
“Ignoring everything else that’s horrible with what you just said. Why would any of my friends help rape some dude.”
“Well, I think Connor could be talked into it. He spends more time staring at your ass than mine.”
Connor’s gay? That explains so much. “Beatrice. Being gay doesn’t mean… No, nevermind, we both know you’re just trying to fuck with my head. I’m going to choose to pretend it’s to distract me from thinking about Chloe, rather than amusing yourself at my expense. Now why does this justify me getting rid of her? You said she’s just like you. Although that’s probably reason enough, now that I think about it.”
“Is kinda weird of you to crush on a girl who’s so much like your sister, bro.” She was not wrong. “But at least I’m honest. I know I’m crazy, I know I’d be out for good ol’ fashion revenge. Betcha Chloe was swearing up and down it was justice or some crazy shit. Bet she’d team up with the damn Nazis if it meant getting her chance to crack some skulls.”
Note to self, never bet against my sister on anything ever. She is terrifying when she’s on the ball. “Okay, maybe she’s a little too hung up on the vengeance thing.”
“A little? She’s high strung, high maintenance, and a walking trouble magnet. Even without the whole powers-drama, I’d say you drop the bitch and run in the other direction. You don’t need that shit in your life.”
I wanted to argue, I really did, but everything she said made logical sense. “Doesn’t matter now, I don’t think she’s coming back. No matter what you and your uncharacteristically mature insights say.”
“Nah, she will, trust me.” Bea’s smile widened. “Unless you do something to make it so she can’t. What you should do is use the pretend breakup as a chance to snag one of the other girls at school. Pick up someone sweet, quiet and not so caught up on this whole ‘black and white’ shit like Chloe. I’d say maybe she’d realize she was wrong, but that ain’t how she rolls. She thinks everything’s so simple, and you just do the right thing no matter how many people it fucks over.”
“Ain’t that the truth.” It was one of her more endearing qualities, in my opinion. She was smart, strong willed, and had an almost fanatic belief that she could make the world a better place with nothing more than hard work.
“Yup, girls like that are nothin’ but trouble.” She patted the bed near my leg. “They don’t belong in a world like ours.”
This time, I smiled and even meant it. “Know what? You’re absolutely right.”
“Dammit, Dom, can’t you at least let me get my phone before you say shit like that? I want this burned on a CD and framed on my wall.”
“If you get to be the smart one, I get to be the annoying one.” I sat up, hissing at the pain in my muscles and joints. “But how ’bout if I do you one better? You let me get dressed, and we’ll go out to the garage where I can show you how my powers work.”
“Yes!” Bea hopped off my bed. “Sure as fuck beats listening to Ty brag about spending five hundred bucks on rims.”
“You’re just pissed he spent it on a car instead of you.”
“Damn straight I am!” Bea grabbed the door and closed it as she left.
Girls like Chloe do not belong in a world like ours.