Price To Pay
Summary: Lash learns the hard way what being a villian will cost him in the end.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Author's Note: I just had to do Lash's point of view of things from 'Once a Villian…'. So it's probably better if you read that story first.
He never expects to return to Sky High. He lost hope of his parents helping him out after his fifth month behind bars. That's why it's such a surprise when, during his ninth month of incarceration he's suddenly taken from his cell and shoved into a room with his lawyer, his father, and Principal Powers. His father used all the favors he was owed to get him free and enrolled back at Sky High. He's not sure he wants to know the details considering the look of scorn on his father's face.
Principal Powers doesn't show any emotion but he knows that the decision to readmit him was taken out of her hands. He's missed a year of schooling so he's going to be a junior, but he doesn't care. He's just glad that he gets to go back to school and he's willing to do whatever she says for the chance. Even be a sidekick.
The classes aren't as bad as he thought they'd be considering he once picked on the sidekicks, both teenager and adult alike. They ignore him and let him get his work done and he does the same. The heroes won't talk to him though, and it stings a bit. Some of those people used to be his friends. He's not allowed to play 'Save the Citizen' but it doesn't matter. Without Speed he wouldn't stand a chance, especially since Stronghold and Peace seem to dominate the game now.
The first time he actually comes into contact with someone it's Stronghold's girl, the redhead that wrapped all the Penny's up in vines. He's in the library trying to find a book when she runs into him so hard as she turns the corner that his books scatter to the ground. He watches her blush as she hurriedly picks them up and smirks at the sight of her so flustered by him. She bolts so fast he wonders what he did that scared her off. He never even got to say a word.
It's three days before he sees her again outside of class. The Paper Lantern used to be his favorite place to eat until Peace started working there. But when the craving for chinese food hits him, he doesn't want to settle for the cheap stuff. So he goes there, expecting to deal with a surly pyrokinetic. Instead, Peace isn't working and Stronghold's redhead is sitting in a booth by herself looking seriously bored and slightly pissed off.
He's surprised when she sees him waiting for a table, waves him over, and invites him to sit with her since apparently Stronghold stood her up. He's even more surprised by the fact that she's so easy to talk to. Not at all stuck up like most of the girls in the hero track, like Penny and Gwen. He has a good time and when he learns that she and Stronghold haven't been together since sophomore year he realizes that she might be a good distraction for a while.
She'll only meet him in secret. He doesn't blame her. Her friends are intimidating and he honestly doesn't want anyone to know either. Still, she's the only person who'll talk to him and he'll take anything he can get. He ignores the fact that when he's with her everything else disappears.
Her friend, the one with purple streaks in her hair, is the only one who comes even close to catching them. They have to run to ditch her at the mall when she nearly corners them in the record store. And then at school they have to work to stay one step ahead of her sarcastic comments, questions filled with innuendo, and quirky looks. Still, he's grateful that the girl never says anything in front of anyone else. She keeps her thoughts to herself and doesn't tell anyone about the fact that Layla's hanging out with him. The only one's they have to outwit are the others and after a while it doesn't take very much work at all.
The first time he kisses her isn't planned. He takes her to the botanical gardens and watches as she lights up when she's surrounded by all the flowers and trees. She's practically gushing when she thanks him for the surprise as he takes her home. When she turns to say goodbye though, he's standing so close that he can see the green flecks in her eyes. She's the one who takes the initiative and kisses him. He hates cliches but stars burst behind his eyes when her arms wrap around his neck. When she presses her body to his he can't help but deepen the kiss.
Soon he's got her doing things she never would have done before. They skip class several times to make out under the bleachers and she sneaks out at night to meet him in the park. They do silly things there, like swing on the swings at the playground, or just walk along the edge of the lake. One night he even gets her to go skinny dipping. Then her grades drop and suddenly all of her friends aren't so ignorant anymore.
He knows they try to get her to stay away, but she doesn't. She ignores their words, tells them she knows exactly who he is and what she's doing. He's surprised by it all. He half expects her to drop him for them. He would have done it if it had been his friends demanding that he drop her. Maybe that's why, when he gets the letter from Speed, he doesn't ignore it. He reads it and instead of throwing it away, he lays it on his desk and decides to go along with what Gwen and the others have planned. He doesn't tell her a thing.
The night she gives him her virginity he knows that this will be one of the last happy times he has with her. He's made his choice and there's no going back. So in their park under the bright light of the moon, he takes her, showing her that he cares the only way he knows how. It's the most important and best night of his life. She's beautiful and accepting and holds nothing back. When she cries his name he can't hold back either and he spills himself into her, feeling for the first time like he's complete. And he knows that he's going to lose it all.
He tries to stop it. After that night he tries to tell them that he can't go through with it. He even visits them at the prison to do it. But there's no going back. It's too late and he helped them too far along with their plans. So he pastes a smile on his face, pretends that nothings wrong, and tries not to think about the fact that in just a little over a month he'll be a villian again.
When they show up at homecoming together it startles everybody, but her friend Magenta is the first one to show her support since she's known about them all along, and soon the others follow suit. He leaves her halfway through the dance, telling her that he's going to the bathroom. He steals one last glimpse of her as he heads out the door and thinks that she's the most beautiful person he's ever known, right before he goes to meet Gwen, Speed, and Penny outside.
Taking over the gym is easy only this time they all stay inside when the gates slam down. Everything is more one on one and everyone is running, screaming, as Gwen uses the new power she developed to cut down everyone who crosses her path. He does his part, sends people Gwen's direction to be taken out, when he sees her searching for her friends. He can't stay away. He steps right in front of her causing her to stumble when she runs into him. He steadies her but immediately drops her arm. They can't see him being kind to her. She'll never get out of this if they do. Gwen's got it out for her more than anyone else.
He can see the denial in her gaze and the way it fades away to hurt, anger, and acceptance. He also sees the love in her eyes and he wants to say something, deny that he's a part of this, but he can't and he can only stand there and watch her turn away. The realization hits him then, that he loves her, but it's too little, too late. She's gone, searching for her friends again, leaving him behind. He's made his choice and it wasn't her. For the first time in his life he knows that there's a higher price to pay for his choices than just his freedom.
It doesn't take long. He knew they wouldn't win. It's not the way things work. The handcuffs chafe his wrists as he's led out of the school. There's a sense of déjà vu in the air and he nearly laughs at the irony of it. And then he sees her. She's surrounded by her friends but her eyes are only for him as he's placed in the waiting police car. He wants to touch her, to say he's sorry, but all he can do is watch her. His good girl.
He once thought regrets were a waste of time, but that is all he is filled with. He sees her hand go to rest on her abdomen and stay there in a protective gesture. Before the evening started she told him that she had something important to tell him after the dance and now he knows what it was. He struggles to get his hands free, to stretch enough to slip out of the cuffs, but they were designed to negate powers and he can't get free. He's screaming in his head, railing against leaving her behind, but he doesn't have a choice anymore. He chose his friends over her and his decision cost him more than he ever imagined it would. This time there won't be any second chances.
The car takes off, just like the Sky High bus he used to ride on, and he cranes his head, tries to see her, but she's disappeared into the crowd, denying him one last glimpse. He's lost everything, things he didn't even know he had until it was too late. His head drops forward and he can't stop the tears from falling. Being a villian isn't so much fun anymore.