Disclaimer: Yeah, I don't Sky High.
A/N: Please take the time to review, I'd love to know what you think so far! Also don't worry about the title, I promise Ashton Kutcher wont be making any appearances (thank god!)
One - Partnership
When I was told, way back when I was a freshman, that one day I would be assigned to a hero in order to fight the good fight I couldn't wait. Back then the idea of standing up for justice in a pair of snappy pink spandex (and maybe even a matching cape) sounded like the life for me.
I mean, sure, maybe I wouldn't get to actually be the superhero every kid dreams they're going to be. And maybe that had a lot to do with the fact that I'd made a fool of myself in front of the entire class during Power Placement. I was in hero support, but I was okay with that. More then okay. Less pressure, for one thing. Besides four years is a long time, I'd repressed the memories of Boomer yelling to come back when I'd been bitten by a decent radioactive bug.
But I digress, because right now hero support has become the bane of my existence.
Well, alright, that isn't exactly fair. The bane of my existence isn't my slightly lame power, nor the fact that I've spent my high schooling career learning catchy phrases to shout in times of emergency. No, my bane, the thing that is, even now, seriously damaging my prospects of reaching my next birthday, is standing next to me.
It's also pinching my arm, despite the fact that it's supposed to be eighteen years of age.
"Hey, sidekick, I'm talking to you!"
It's also yelling in my ear. And I think I can hear its crony laughing obnoxiously at me and my misfortune.
Let me explain. Last week I graduated from Sky High. Big reason to celebrate, right? Well, I thought so too… at first. It wasn't until Principal Powers brought out the List and started reminding us all that we had been paired with either a hero or a sidekick, depending on which class we were in, who would join us in our quest to make A Better World, that I realised how much graduation sucked.
Because, you know, I actually had to find out who I was stuck with.
Anyway, so as you might have guessed, I got paired with a total dud, but I was prepared to deal. In hero support we're trained to take the good with the bad… and as soon as I figure out what the good is, I'll be completely ready to handle this bad. Despite the fact that I'd had to spend my entire Saturday tracking down said dud.
"Look," I said, putting my hands on my hips and hoping my voice sounded low and dangerous, "you may not like this arrangement, but there's nothing any of us can do about it. So whatever issues you have, deal with them quietly and just accept that me and you are going to have to fight crime together."
"Well, since you put it that way… no!"
I glared at the creature that I was expected to refer to as my hero. Seriously, immature much?
"Hey, dude," its crony laughed, "what about the costume, don't you get to dress her? I think you're going to need all her measurements for that!"
And they were off. Har-de-ha-ha-ha, man, that cut her so deep.
Yeah, I'm finding it a little hard to get my head around the fact that Principal Powers and the other staff at Sky High expect me to be the support to Lash's hero.
Especially since he didn't even bother to turn up to graduation, hence with the tracking on my part. As it was I'd finally been able to locate Lash – and unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Speed – at Maxville's one and only shopping mall where they'd been terrorising a group of small children. I'd delivered the good news to Lash about ten minutes ago and have, ever since, become their latest target.
"So what's your power, sidekick?" Lash jeered, not bothering to keep his voice down even as an elderly couple strolled past, "Or are you one of those extra-lame losers that don't even have a power?"
I thought this was a bit rude coming from the boy who, after Power Placement, had spent the next six months tripping me up in the hallways because of the stupidness of my power. He could at least have the decency to remember what he'd teased me about.
"At least I never used my power to hurt anyone!" I shot back, "And for your information I do have a power. And it's great!"
Speed suddenly slapped his own forehead. "Man, I remember you," he said to me, a gigantic grin spreading across his face. He turned to Lash and uttered a single word. "Butterflies."
Lash looked puzzled for a moment. Something I had never thought possible because, before now, I hadn't even known he was capable of thinking. "Butterflies?" he repeated, "What, like, she can turn into a butterfly?"
Okay, even though turning into a butterfly sounds completely useless I would like to point out that it is probably better then what I can actually do. At least if you were a butterfly you could escape from dangerous situations with ease.
Unfortunately realisation dawned on Lash. He smirked. Evilly.
"You're the chick Boomer hit with the car!"
Speed and Lash howled with laughter, clutching their sides and almost falling over. Speed even had tears running down his cheeks at the 'fond' memory.
I stood there, clenching my fists, reminding myself that I'd repressed the memory and I was okay with being hero support. At least, I was okay with being hero support until I was punished for some deed in a past life and sentenced to a most cruel and unusual sort of punishment in the form of Lash.
"Once you're done reminiscing!" I snapped angrily.
Lash sobered up enough to speak. "Okay, look, Powers might have said you were my sidekick or whatever, but – and pay attention 'cause I'm only gonna say this once – I'm not interested."
"What?" I was shell-shocked. I hadn't spent four years perfecting my ability to change clothes at the speed of light only to have my hero tell me thanks but no thanks.
"The hero thing," Lash shrugged, "it's not gonna happen, so I won't be needing a sidekick."
"But… but you can't do that!" I protested, "You have to be a hero! I didn't get ninety four per cent on my Support S.A.T's just for you to turn around and say no!"
"Only ninety four?" Speed mocked, "What, didn't study enough?"
"You can't make me be a hero," Lash sounded amused at the very thought, "and since I don't want to waste my time picking kittens out of trees, I guess you wont be able to either."
Maybe my entire world didn't come crashing down, but it definitely wobbled precariously. What he was saying was true. If he wouldn't be a hero, then I couldn't be a sidekick. I couldn't be what I'd worked so hard to become. All because he was being a total jerk.
I think I stomped my foot a bit. "It's not allowed!" I cried, "Principal Powers will never let you just walk away and -"
"Last time I checked we'd graduated," Lash interrupted, "pretty sure I can do whatever I want."
"So, see ya!" Speed added, mock saluting.
I could feel the heat radiating off my face and knew it must be bright red, I was that angry. It wasn't as if I could just team up with the next hero that wandered by, Principal Powers had explicitly told us that heroes and sidekicks were especially matched up. I assumed it was a long and difficult process. Either that or they just pulled names out of a hat. But the point was I had been paired with Lash and, like it or not, if I wanted to put my training to good use I needed him to start donning a cape.
"We… we have to register as an official crime fighting team," I said weakly, watching my dreams dissolve before my very eyes.
Lash waved a dismissive hand. "Don't care."
I felt a tiny fluttering against my fingers and unclenched my fists to watch the red winged butterfly dance about my face. Quick as a flash, Lash stretched his arm over the considerable distance and snatched the butterfly. I watched in horror as its wings flapped uselessly against its prison while Lash, smirking, balled his hand up, crushing the poor thing.
He cocked an eyebrow at me. "Don't you have some fellow sidekicks to whine at?"
I felt tears spring into my eyes and, without another word, I turned on my heel and ran. I didn't stop until I'd reached the parking lot.
I'm not sure how long I sat there crying like a pathetic eight year old who's just been teased by the big bad bully, but by the time I finally raised my head and wiped my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt there was an army of butterflies hovering nearby.
"Dammit," I muttered, waving them away. Usually I was pretty good at keeping my conjuring in check, but like most kids with superpowers times of extreme emotion tend to mean lapses on the control front.
Maybe I should back up a bit. I'm the daughter of two dentists, real dentists, mind, no superpowers whatsoever. And I was the same; just an ordinary fourth grade kid, a little on the pudgy side back then, but definitely ordinary. Until I happened to find myself being bitten by a freakin' mutated insect. Now all this sounds highly cool and you're probably thinking that I woke up the next morning with high-flying, springy web and retractable antennae. Well, it's sort of like that, only instead of the cool there's just me and the tiny butterflies I can conjure out of thin air.
Pretty wild, I know.
Not that any of it mattered now. What's the use of even having a superpower if it's just going to go to waste?
I got to my feet, whatever I was going to do about this could wait, I just wanted to go home. Giving the butterflies one last glance, hoping they didn't look too conspicuous in a shopping mall car park, I headed off back to the bus stop.
I absentmindedly kicked an empty coke can along as I walked, thinking hard.
Okay, so maybe I hadn't used the best approach. Stalking my hero down like some sort of crazed maniac and announcing out of the blue that we'd been paired together was, in retrospect, almost guaranteed to not go down well. I'd have to think of something else, some way to convince the guy voted 'most likely to become a villain' in our yearbook that he actually really wanted to be fighting for innocent people everywhere, because when it came down to it, either he became a hero, or I wound up a dentist for the rest of my life. And have I mentioned how I want to help children, not stick metal wires in their mouths?
By the time I reached the bus stop I had made up my mind to look up Lash's address in the yearbook and pay him a little visit the next day, I needed tonight to come up with a convincing argument. I hoped it was a good plan. I suppose I could always threaten to tell his mom if he refused to cooperate, after all, this was the good of the world we were talking about!
Why couldn't Principal Powers have just put me with someone else? I don't see Speed's sidekick running around trying to find him. Smart kid. Probably best to sort of forget the whole thing and try to fall in with one of those freelance hero groups. Only I couldn't. It wasn't just a matter of doing what we were supposed to be doing, because like Lash had kindly pointed out, we'd graduated. No, it was a matter of a little something Power's had mentioned on our very first day at Sky High.
"It is up to each and every one of you," she had told us, while I had tried to ignore the fact that Speed had just stolen my hat and was zooming around the gym with it, "to choose your own paths towards heroism. Whether you succeed or fail is entirely within your hands."
It wasn't a matter of giving up, that wasn't even an option. If I was going to get anywhere as a sidekick, if I was going to take my heroic journey into my own hands, I was going to have to beat some sense into Lash. Though maybe not literally, I could see that going extremely badly.