The last chapter. Honestly, I like "Megalomaniac" more than "Sunshine", so it's sad for me to see it go. Hope anyone reading this has enjoyed the ride and is not disappointed in my happy ending. (I don't have happy endings too often)Chapter Ten – The Return and the Resolution
It felt strangely refreshing to take her mask off. For two years, she had been Stormicide—her secret identity had been virtually non-existent, as she wasn't really needed once Jacques was no longer a part of her life. She came out of the bathroom and spotted him close by, staring off into the distance. Rather than taking the chair facing him, Kim sat down in the chair behind Gamma Jack, and sat back-to-back with him. Jack stiffened. "Don't turn around," Kim spoke in a soft voice, Stormicide's confidence and easy strength gone. Nobody would worry about them. The party was in full swing, and the lights made it hard to see Kim's face, anyway. Nobody would see that her mask was gone. Even if they did see, Kim had accomplished what she wanted. She had become a heroine for only one reason—
"I tell you, I'm going back for her," Gamma Jack repeated, his tone sober and almost mechanical.
"You don't have to," she replied simply. Gamma Jack started to turn around in surprise, and again she stopped him. "Don't."
"What is that supposed to mean?" he snapped. Kim couldn't tell what he was referring to, so she decided not to answer. Taking a deep breath, she started to sing.
"Le château est dans le ciel. Le bateau est sur l'eau. Les oiseaux volent. Les poissons nagent. Et vous êtes ici avec moi." Her voice was more like a whispering wind, as Jacques had told her all those years ago, the French sounding strangely exotic in her own, unique accent. They were both silent for a few moments. "I wonder if you remember the fire extinguisher incident."
"How could I forget? You never let me forget," he choked out a reply, his voice bitter and anguished-sounding. The realization was a lot for him to take.
"You had just come home," she went on, taking his words in, but not responding to them. "Back then, you were still coming home in the afternoon, not at night like you did afterwards. It had been only a week since our marriage, and despite your powers, despite everything, I loved you. More than anything." She leaned against him, her left hand lying limp at her side. Kim felt him grip her hand in his own, and wondered just how much he understood. How much did either of them understand about each other?
"Liar. You were scared to death of me," he snapped in return, breaking her from her thoughts. "You wouldn't even look me in the eye. And you barely spoke to me at all."
Kim drew a sharp breath, and thought her words over in her head carefully, not wanting to be misinterpreted. These moments were all they had—there was an equal chance for both reconciliation, and a total severing of ties. Finally, she spoke. "I could have left any time before the day I did. If I were truly terrified of you, I would have left you long ago," There was a long silence, and Kim knew that he was thinking of that afternoon.
The super known as Fironic was sprawled on the living room couch, sipping lemonade out of a cup that Kim had graciously given him. He had shown up at Kim and Jacques' front door, wanting to speak to Gamma Jack.
It hadn't stricken her as particularly strange. Jack was known to throw supers' parties at their house from time to time, though Kim was never allowed to be present, and no super had shown up uninvited before. She had seen Fironic on television a few times before, so she trusted him wholeheartedly. Kim had simply told Fironic that Jack wouldn't be home for another hour. It was a younger Kim who spoke, one that was less mousy, more like Stormicide. She had faith, then, and some courage, nearly five years ago.
Fironic, for his part, had invited himself inside and insisted on waiting for Gamma Jack to get home, making himself quite comfortable in their house.
"I didn't know Gamma Jack was married," Fironic said casually, some time later, taking another gulp of lemonade.
"Is that so?" Kim knew she was terrible at small talk, particularly with supers such as her husband. She felt nervous in their presence, as if she was constantly being judged. Nearly half an hour had passed since he'd shown up, and they'd barely said a word to each other. Kim was busying herself in the kitchen, making dinner.
"Yeah, he's never talked about you at all. What's your name?"
At that moment, the front door slammed open. "FIRONIC!" It was Jack, and he sounded enraged. Fironic sat up and started walking towards the front room. Alarmed, Kim took off her apron and went to see what was going on. When she reached the front door, Jack and Fironic were yelling at each other in the foyer. She looked outside a little, and noticed that Fironic had his mini-plane on the front lawn, which is how Jack knew that he was here. When the two saw Kim, they both froze. Then, if possible, Jack got even angrier, shoved Fironic to the left, and took a step towards her. "What are you doing!" he demanded to know.
"What do you mean?" she asked, her tone defensive.
"What's he doing here?" Jack yelled. "You know they're not supposed to see you!"
"What? What's wrong with letting one of your friends in the house? What's wrong with me being seen by them, are you embarrassed by me or something?" This was the most she'd said to him in days, and the loudest she'd ever spoken to him, period. Her eyes quickly darted to Fironic, who looked rather uncomfortable.
"You. Aren't. Supposed. To. Be. Seen." Jack said through gritted teeth. He then stopped, as if just noticing that Fironic was there. With an annoyed sigh, he grabbed Kim's wrist and dragged her to the kitchen. "You're not supposed to answer the door unless it's one of your friends," he snapped.
Hurt and very confused, Kim persisted, "You never let me go to your supers' parties, and Fironic said that you haven't even mentioned me—"
"As far as the world's concerned, you don't exist." He replied, his voice hard. She could see him balling his hand not holding her wrist into a fist.
"Damn it all, Kim!" Jack slammed his fist against the countertop and let go of her hand with his other hand.
"Jack!" Fironic was in the entrance to the kitchen. "What are you doing to her?" he yelled.
"What the hell? Why did you follow us? You're supposed to stay put in the doorway! This is a private conversation!" Jack roared.
"How can I when you're yelling so loudly? You shouldn't treat a woman that way, least of all your wife!" Fironic chastised.
Jack blinked a few times. "How did you know she was my wife?" He glanced between Kim and Fironic back and forth a few times. "Did she tell you?" His eyes narrowed.
"She might as well not be, as poorly as she's being treated!" Fironic dodged the question. Kim looked up at Jack in fear. His face was contorted into a mask of rage, and both of Jack's fists started glowing green.
"Are you challenging me, you little salaud?" When Jack used French, his mother tongue, Kim knew to hide. She instinctively took a few steps back, but Jack mirrored her, slipping his right arm around her waist and pulling her to him. With his other glowing hand, he shot a radiation wave at the fire extinguisher, which was just next to Fironic's head. In that instant, he turned his back on Fironic, shielding Kim. There was a large explosion. Bits of the fire extinguisher went here and there and a cloud of white liquefied carbon dioxide filled the room.
"He'll be blind for the rest of his life, I hope you know," Agent Dicker said to Jacques a day later. Kim was leaning against the opposite wall, her mind blank. "He'll never be able to do hero work again."
"You know how touchy I get when my wife's concerned," Jacques replied simply, his tone a mixture of sadistic and amused.
"If it wasn't for how much Metroville needs you, you'd be arrested for assault. As it is, the NSA is putting you on probation and watch," the older man replied harshly, annoyed at the super's callousness. On his way out, he muttered to Kim, "God help you both."
The couple stood in silence for some time. "Why?" Kim finally choked out.
"Supers are going to rule the world some day." Jacques mused, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
"Why?" Kim repeated a little louder.
"Wouldn't you like that? To be married to the king of the entire planet?" his eyes flashed, childishness, impishness, evilness…something.
"AREN'T YOU SORRY AT ALL?" she yelled.
"For what?" Jacques smiled a crocodile's smile.
"Fironic is…he's blind now because of you!"
"You know, you're lucky you're my wife, because otherwise I'd be rather angry with you right now. You let another man into the house, and who knows what you were doing?"
"We didn't do anything. He said he wanted to wait for you, and carelessly invited himself in!" she defended.
"So then he deserved what he got, because he was rude." Jacques grinned.
"No! Not like that! To lose your sight? It's too cruel, Jacques!" she took a step towards him. "Why did you have to—" Her eyes moistened, and she felt her upper lip quiver.
"No one is ever supposed to know about you," he walked towards her and smiled. "Well, no supers, anyway. If your identity ever leaked out…if anyone ever found out that you and I were connected…"
"Am I so embarrassing to you?" she sobbed, interrupting him.
"You non-supers are nothing but trouble." He spat. His words cut through her like a knife, and suddenly Kim felt as if she had been doused with ice water. As he passed her by, he stopped at her side and said, "Forget today ever happened. Go back to being a good little wife, and we can forget all about today."
"You…you complete megalomaniac! All you care about is having the world run your way!" she screamed.
"And we're going to take over the world, you and I…" He sang, his voice teasing and provocative. Their eyes met, and Kim was first to break her gaze. There was just a little breeze as Jacques walked past her and shut the door.
"You…really were protecting me, weren't you?" Kim opened her eyes, and saw only darkness around her with a few colored lights flashing here and there, illuminating the dance floor. She heard Jack sigh. "If you had only told me…all the misunderstandings it created…all the troubles we went through…"
"What difference would it have made?" Jack's voice was soft and gentle.
"It would have been all the difference to me," she responded, and Jack's grip on her hand tightened.
"All those other women were nothing. I just…I couldn't let you go. I had to hide your existence and look like I could never be tied down. If anyone ever found out that I was married, and to a non-super, they would have jumped on the opportunity to take you away. I couldn't…I couldn't bear to let that happen!"
"Jack, I was so afraid…after that day, I thought you didn't care about me at all. Even when I found out that I had powers, I didn't want to tell you. I wanted to see if you were…if you were being loyal to me, and what I found…I came upon the wrong conclusion entirely!" her voice was wrought with emotion.
Jack stood up, and turned to look down at her. He couldn't see her face, and so he gently moved his hand to her chin and tilted it up so he could look her in the eye. There were a few lines from too much wear and stress, but it was his Kim, all right. He led her by the hand back onto the terrace, out of view. They both stared out at the lawn, hands still entwined, for several moments.
"Can you ever…forgive me?" she asked him shyly. "For deceiving you for all this time, and being so ignorant of your kindness for so long?" Who could understand such kindness! A man had become blind for her, all so that she could be saved and protected. "And you worked on that super serum for so long…all for nothing."
"You know, I think since that first day I saw Stormicide, I was suspicious that it was you. Your hair, your body, the way you spoke…it was just like how you were before we got married. Every time I came home from work and saw you, I always wondered if you two were one and the same." His free hand balled into a fist and shook. "But you were so unresponsive at home, I figured there was no way you could be Stormicide." Kim took a breath, feeling guilty. Jack sighed. "But no. There's nothing to forgive. I…I lied about the super serum. I stopped it after we spoke at the house after Bomb Voyage stormed the place." He let go of her hand and took a step forward, his back to her. "Stormicide or Kim, I knew that you were interested in me. I can flirt with other women, but to betray you…" He smiled and shook his head. "I wanted to end it, so I told Stormicide that I was going back to my wife, hoping that she'd back off. "And I thought, far in the back of my head, that if you were Kim, something would happen." He turned to Kim and smiled, a little sadly. "And it did."
She sidled closer to him, and leaned against him. "I'm sorry," she repeated.
Jack kissed the top of her head. "I'm sorry, too. For being a terrible husband who never explained anything to his wife, and for everything."
"I don't want to hear any more apologies." She said gently, playfully. "Tell me you love me." She ordered. Jack whistled, and his shaky smile turned into a grin. "Seriously. I want to hear it." Kim persisted.
"Le château est dans le ciel. Le bateau est sur l'eau. Les oiseaux volent. Les poissons nagent. Et vous êtes ici avec moi."
Before she could open her mouth to protest, Jack's mouth was on hers. Tears flooded Kim's eyes, and she closed them, the saltwater flowing down her cheeks. As he hugged her close, rocking her back and forth, Kim thought that it must have been the greatest kiss that she had ever known.