DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the Sky High characters. They belong solely to Disney. Jacob and a few extras are my own creations (you will know them) but Lash, Will Stronghold and Co. and others are not.
Chapter 1/Good Behavior
I was intensely studying the inside of my eyelids when the warden suddenly appeared at my prison cell. I opened one eye groggily as he unlocked the door and came over to me.
"Stanley Silbernagle? Come with me please." He said, slapping handcuffs over my thin wrists.
My cellmate smirked at me. "Stanley Silbernagle? No wonder you go by 'Lash.'"
I ignored his taunts and kept my eyes on the floor as the warden led me past the many cells of the prison I have called home for a year and a half. Seventeen and a juvenile delinquent, but can you really blame me? With an abusive father you'd figure I'd be a pretty messed up kid, which I was. Working for Royal Pain was just out of spite. My dad used to be a hero before my mom died. Then he got into drinking . . . let's just say he went psycho. Anyway, when he found out I had been associating with, and helping, a supervillain, naturally he almost hit the roof and it was bit satisfying to see such a look of hurt and anger on his face. Got ya there, pop. The only thing I regret about going to jail was of course leaving my baby sister behind. She's in the hospital and Dad doesn't really care for her. I had been working a job to pay for her hospital bills. She's got something wrong with her brain. They're not sure what it is. She's only nine-years-old and she hasn't seen the outside of a hospital room in three years. It's kind of sad. I've written to her but since she can't write, I don't know if she's ever gotten them.
The warden let me into a small room that I assumed was his office. A couple of men from the Bureau for Superhero Assistance were there. I was surprised to see them there and tried to read their expressions but it was hard underneath their dark sunglasses. The warden sat me down on a hard plastic chair facing a very large desk. He went around and sat behind it. It looked like he had raised the chair to match the size of the desk which made me feel small. I bet he designed it like that on purpose.
"Mr. Silbernagle." The warden said, folding his hands on the desk.
"Yeah?" I replied, stretching my neck to look up at him. Boy, I wished I could use my powers and stretch my self up to his level. But the handcuffs I had on were the special kind intended to neutralize any powers.
"On account of your good behavior and cooperation in shutting down Royal Pain's Academy for Supervillains, the Bureau for Superhero Assistance is giving me leave to release you on parole. You will return to your home, school, and friends tomorrow."
"What friends?" I muttered under my breath.
"What was that?" Asked one of the Bureau dudes, stepping forward menacingly.
"Nothing." I replied sullenly.
The warden peered down at me, his beady eyes taking in my slouched form, downward gazing eyes and sour tone. After a long scrutiny he nodded decisively.
"That will be all. Your things are in the next room. Pick them up on your way out. I'm sorry to say that you won't be able to say goodbye to your cellmates."
The two dudes with the sunglasses exchanged a look before one stepped forward and took me by the arm. They led me to the door then hesitated as if waiting for me to make some smart remark to the warden. Well, I wasn't that stupid. When I didn't say anything they started forward again, dragging me along. We stopped by the place where they were holding my things. It was just what I had in my pockets that night. A pocketknife, a stick of gum (now sticky and gross looking), my cellphone and the phone number of a very pretty waitress I ran into at the Paper Lantern one night.
The Bureau dudes did not let me out of the handcuffs until we were at the front steps of my house. They had tried calling my dad to come pick me up but he did not answer the phone. I figured he was dead-drunk and couldn't get to the kitchen (where the phone was). One of the dudes with me lifted a large hand and knocked loudly on the door. There was no answer. They knocked again. Nada. I turned to them.
"There's a key under the mat. If you let me go, I can do the rest myself."
The Bureau dudes glanced at each other before one nodded to the other and they un-did the cuffs. I stretched my arms several feet experimentally before bringing them back to my sides. Bending down I lifted the doormat and extracted the spare house key. Not a very unique place to hide it, I must admit, but it hasn't gotten stolen so far.
I put the key in the lock and turned to the dudes. "Um, I've got it from here." I said.
The dudes looked at each other once more before nodding to me and walking back to their car. I took a deep breath and opened the door, closing it behind me.
The first thing that hit me was the smell. I almost gagged when I turned the corner to the living room and saw the hundreds of beer bottles strewn around the place. I held my nose and peered through the thick cigarette smoke that clouded my vision.
"Dad?" I choked out. I stretched my arm to the window and opened it wide, trying to clear the smoke out of the room.
"Soooo, you no good -----------, you finally get out of jail?"
I winced at Dad's cursing. "Yeah, they let me out on good behavior."
Dad snorted. The smoke had finally cleared enough for me to see him. He was slouched on an armchair riddled with burn holes. His face looked like he hadn't shaved in months. I couldn't smell it from where I stood but I was sure his breath stunk. "Good behavior my ---. You probably bribed yourself out."
I could feel hot anger rising to my cheeks but I pushed it down. I turned to grab my coat and car keys. "I'm going to go check on Sarah." I was halfway to the door before my father's voice stopped me.
"You'll not leave until you clean this mess up."
I turned and scanned the room with dismay. "Dad, it's not even my mess!"
I ducked as a beer bottle came flying towards me.
"Don't you use that cheek with me! You'll clean up this mess right now or you'll not see your sister for three weeks!"
I sighed in resignation and proceeded to pick up the beer bottles, tossing them into a plastic garbage bag with my dad scolding me every few seconds when I missed something. After that he made me vacuum the floor and clean all the windows free of smoke stains. When that was done he ordered me to make him lunch then to clean the kitchen. By the time he fell into a drunken sleep I was afraid visiting hours at the hospital would be over. I hurriedly grabbed my keys and jacket and almost flew out the door.
Luckily there were no policemen out when I drove to the hospital. I'm sure I broke a few speed limits here and there. Once I parked and ran into the building, past the reception desk and to the room my little sister had been in the last time I saw her, I stopped short of the doorway, concentrating on slowing my breathing. After I had gotten that under control, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and opened the door. Peeking inside I sighed with relief when I saw her small body still in that bed, the monitors beeping steadily, her small chest rising and falling as usual. I stepped inside and shut the door behind me.
She had not changed a bit since the last time I saw her a year ago. I could not decide whether or not that was a good thing. I pulled a chair up next to her bed and took her small hand in mine. Her face looked so pale, dark lashes resting against white cheeks. Her dark hair had started to grow back a while ago since they had to shave it for the operation. Not like that did any good. It was as short as mine and I was surprised to see how much she resembled me. Fortunately, we take after mom's side of the family.
I had only been with her a few minutes before a nurse came inside. She looked surprised to see me there but firmly told me that I was not allowed in here and to please leave.
"She's my little sister!" I cried indignantly.
The nurse looked from me to Sarah's still face. She seemed to be hesitating. "I'm sorry but visiting hours are over."
"Listen, I haven't seen my sister in a year and a half. I promise I won't make any trouble. Please let me stay with her."
The nurse looked at my face and must have seen something that softened her heart though I don't know what. She nodded. "Alright. But if you cause any trouble I'm kicking you out."
I nodded. "I understand."
The nurse nodded again and went over Sarah's vitals. She left soon after. I sat for a while just holding my sister's small hand. After a few long minutes her eyes fluttered open and she sighed slightly. Her bright brown eyes scanned the room before lighting on me. An expression of joy that brought tears to my eyes came over her pale face.
"Stanley?" Her voice was barely above a whisper but so full of love I had to choke back a sob. "You're back?"
I nodded my head. "Yes, sweetheart. I'm back."
Two tears trailed down my cheeks. Her small trembling hand lifted to my cheek and wiped them away.
"I missed you." She smiled a bit. I took her hand.
"I missed you too."
"Tell me a story."
And so I proceeded to continue with a tradition our mother handed down to us. Whenever someone was sick or in pain, the visiting loved one would tell a story to help the invalid to forget about his or her pain. The rules were the story had to make no sense whatsoever, have no plot and no moral.
She listened intently at first, sighing and laughing at all the right parts, but after a while I could see her getting worn out and her eyelids started to droop. I smiled slightly and my voice trailed off. I leaned forward and kissed her forehead. She squeezed my hand in response.
"I love you Sarah, I'll be back to see you soon."
"Love you." Her voice was soft.
I squeezed her hand one last time before quietly moving towards the door. I stepped outside and closed the door gently behind me. I turned to leave and accidentally bumped into someone. My apology died on my lips when I saw who it was.
"Lash?" The red-head hippie in front of me craned her neck to peer into my face. Her expression changed from surprise to anger to curiosity. "When did you get out of jail?"
"Just today. I got time off for good behavior." I kept my gaze over her shoulder. I remembered well what I had done to her and her friends and felt a pang of regret. I had always bullied the sidekicks partly because my "best friend" Speed did and partly because I have always had the mentally to strike out before getting hit myself. It was bully or be bullied for me. I got too much of that from my father and I always made sure no one would ever have the opportunity to continue the abuse.
"Oh. That's great." I had a feeling she was just being polite. I found my suspicions were correct for the next moment she said a hasty "see you 'round," stepped around me and took off down the hall. I did not know whether she left because she was afraid of me or because she could not stand being near me. Once thing I did know however: I was not looking forward to returning school the following day.