Love is friendship set on fire.
…Okay, now that was just scary.
Will stared down at the tiny slip of paper in his hand, his eyes wide, and a blush beginning to creep up over his cheeks. Warren, on the other side of the booth, quirked an eyebrow and leaned forward. "What? What's it say?"
Will jumped, and crumpled his fortune before the other could see it, stuffing it in his pocket. "Nothing! None of your business! Why do you care?"
"Uh… I mean… uh…" Will suddenly reached out and plucked Warren's fortune cookie from the table, cracking it open. "What's yours?"
He blanched as he read it, before laughing weakly. "I-it says 'a secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection'. Something you want to tell me, Warren?"
Warren grunted, and rolled his eyes, and ate a bite of noodle, sufficiently distracted. Will sighed in relief, and slipped Warren's fortune into his pocket to join his own.
It was the fortune cookies.
Your smile will tell you what makes you feel good.
Not a romantic message by any means, nor a particularly meaningful one; but it had stuck in Will's head, and for the next day or so, he had taken stock of what made him smile, amusing himself with such random facts as: he found himself grinning briefly whenever he heard the toaster finish toasting, and the sight of the Mad Science lab made his face practically light up for a moment or two, oddly enough – both of which he had no reason for.
Then it got (more) strange when he realized, during lunch, that he couldn't stop smiling. He even tried to, but then Warren glanced up briefly and commented on Zach's hair, and it returned. He just felt very… good.
Well, that made sense, he was hanging out with his friends, after all. No big deal. Right?
Okay, so it was a little bit weird, that he found himself noticing that he smiled more around Warren than everyone else, but hey, the guy was his newest best friend. Of course he would 'feel good' around him. Duh.
Will promptly forgot all about the fortune cookie, and stopped keeping track of his smiles.
Well, yeah, that was easy for the fortune cookie to say, but it wasn't the one that had just broken up with Layla!
Still, Will munched on the cookie, and folded the piece of paper up small, stuffing it in his pocket, attempting to look calm. He tapped the table with his hands, and tapped his feet, and began to hum a beat under his breath, glancing around himself awkwardly. Shit. Shitshitshit. What had he been thinking?
A hot hand caught his own right before his fingers hit the table again, and Will glanced up, relief visibly filling him as he saw Warren standing over him.
"Okay, Wonderboy, what's wrong with you? You're bothering the other customers." Warren tossed his ever-present (at work) towel over his shoulder and slid into the booth across from Will.
Will twisted his fingers together, blushing slightly when he noticed that Warren was telling the truth. A couple was glaring at him from three booths away. "Nothing," he told Warren.
"Well, okay, so I sorta… kindamaybebrokeupwith – well, it wasn't – sort of…"
"I broke up with Layla."
"Yes, I know it was stupid, you don't have to look at me like that! But – but – we just work better as friends, okay? When we kiss, it's just not… I mean, I didn't mean to mess everything up, but we just don't work as a – a couple! But now I'm worried that she's going to hate me, because she cried and I really don't want to lose her as a friend – which is why I broke up with her, but she doesn't know that, and – are you going to help me or just sit there!"
Finally Warren spoke. "Why are you telling me all of this?"
Will blinked, and was halted for a moment. Why was he? "Uh… because you're my best friend and I need advice?"
Warren rolled his eyes.
"You're such a dolt, Stronghold. Just go tell her what you told me."
Will blinked again. "What? Warren, Layla's not even going to want to talk to me! She hates me right now!"
Warren reached out and took a sip of Will's water. "Look, just tell her what you told me: you like her a lot, but you don't think that the two of you are cut out for a romantic relationship. You want to go back to being best friends again, and you want to break up sooner rather than later because you don't want any bitter feelings to compromise that relationship, more than they have to."
Will stared. "Could you write that down for me?" Warren rolled his eyes, and Will found himself smiling, no longer so freaked. "No, really, did I seriously just say that? I had no idea."
"That's because you're stupid, Stronghold."
He that will not command his thoughts will soon lose command of his actions.
He could deal. It wasn't like the fortune cookies were real, or anything. This one was just scarily appropriate, because… because… hey…
Warren was walking past, in his sleeveless black work shirt. He shot Will a brief grin. He bent over at another table to wipe it off. His arms flexed.
He should not be noticing this stuff! And he should not be caring that he should not be noticing, because he wasn't really noticing, because he wasn't, not really, except heso was because Warren was smiling at someone and Will couldn't tear his eyes away.
He told Layla. Bad move. Even though their friendship (with a little help from Warren's word magic) was pretty much back to normal, it was probably not a good idea to be discussing his attraction to a guy with his ex. Especially if she was Layla.
Layla, though, thought it was funny. Then, when she realized he was serious, she thought it was cute, which was worse. Will tried to explain that no, it was not cute, and yes, it was going to go away, but she didn't listen. She was already plotting.
In gym, Will took slow, deep breaths, trying not to noticeably inhale the scent of the boy next to him. Woodsmoke and Chinese food.
They came true.
It could be better, but it's good enough.
Will saved this one, showed it to Layla, then told her in several ways exactly how it was true. Actually, really things were even better this way, because Warren was totally not gay.
Not that Will was, either. Just a little bit different. A teensy bit into his best friend. But not really. It was going away any day now.
Warren put an arm around him at lunch (just friends, guys did that with their friends all the time, it was nothing special), and he couldn't breathe, let alone talk.
Seriously, he could deal, though. This was fine. This was…
Yes. Maybe he did like Warren. But he would not get Warren. And this was good enough. He didn't want to do anything about it and lose the pyro's friendship.
And not just because then he'd never get to have Warren's arm around his shoulders.
Many are cold, but few are frozen.
Will didn't get that one until two days later, when he found himself staring down the barrel of his own Freeze Ray in Mad Science, eyes widening as it covered him in ice, and, well, froze him.
He'd kind of messed it up; instead of basically acting as a mini little cryo-unit and temporarily shutting him down until it melted (much like Warren's ex's power), without causing him any harm, Will just got cold. Very cold. He was really lucky that he was invincible, or he'd probably freeze and die in the first few minutes, seeing as he was encased in ice up to his neck.
Students panicked. Medulla examined him carefully and then decided that he'd need something more genuine than an artificial Heat Ray. Will nearly blacked out.
And then they called Warren in.
It had been just over fifteen minutes, and Will's face was getting visibly blue. The other students had been cleared out of the class, and his vision was kind of blurring. So, so cold.
Warren's eyes widened slightly, but he didn't say anything. He just peeled off his jacket and took off his gloves. He didn't even hesitate as he walked forward and wrapped his arms around the ice-block that was Will, steam instantly surounding them.
Will wasn't sure how long it took them to get him out, or at what point Warren picked him up; but he did know that he was actually feeling warmth again, and he pressed as close to it as he could.
He woke up in the infirmary, still in Warren's arms, heat curling around him. Will blinked up at the pyro, who looked very bored, and mildly (for him, at least) annoyed.
"Warre-" he croaked, but before he could finish, and arm shifted, and a hot hand pressed on his neck. He made a weird little noise and fell silent, suddenly realizing that he was in Warren's lap.
"You're an idiot, Stronghold, you know that? I don't know how you messed up a Freeze Ray that damn bad, but then you actually shot yourself with it?" Warren shook his head. "Imbecile."
"Uh. Sorry?" Will blinked a few times, trying not to notice non-friend-type things, and failing. He could feel himself blushing, but his face was already pink, so Warren didn't notice. "Uh, why are you, you know – "
"Holding you?" Warren rolled his eyes. "I'm supposed to be your human heatpack until you're no longer in danger of hypothermia."
Will swallowed. "Oh. Sorry."
Warren shrugged. "Whatever."
After a brief pause, both looking around and avoiding the other's eyes – and in Will's case Warren's chest and arms too – Warren spoke again.
"Well, this is awkward."
Will chuckled. "Kind of, yeah."
Love the sea? I dote on it – from the beach.
"It's fine, Layla!" Will crumpled up his fortune and stuck it in his pocket. "Seriously. That was just a weird little… thing. I'm over it – I don't care, alright?"
Layla eyed him suspiciously, and Will looked around. "And why did you take me here to talk about this? Are you insane?"
"Oh no," she chirped, "He's off-duty today."
"Who is?" Said a low voice that totally didn't curl Will's stomach into knots.
"Warren! What are you doing here? We thought you were out on a date." Layla looked confused, but still managed to shoot Will a triumphant look when he flinched at the word 'date'.
Warren shook his head. "No."
He didn't offer up anything more, and Layla only nodded, so after a brief pause of wrestling with himself, Will gave in. "W-why, what happened?" He winced when Layla smiled brightly at him.
Warren shrugged. "No reason. Just changed my mind. We didn't work out last year, and let's face it, we won't now, either. I mean, she's hot and all, but she cancels out my power. It…" he made a face, "feels really weird."
Will nodded, a slow grin blooming over his face. "So, you're single again?"
Layla kicked him, and Warren looked at him oddly.
Will swallowed, trying to cover up. But he still couldn't contain his grin. "Cool! I-I mean, because I was the only one of us who wasn't dating somebody. Except for Ethan, but he's like, non-sexed."
Warren frowned at him, tilted his head to the side, and frowned some more.
"Okay, first of all, the word is 'asexual', and secondly, you are aware that none of your friends except for Glowworm and the guinea pig are dating anyone – including Hippie right in front of you – right?"
Will nodded, still smiling.
Warren continued to look at him oddly, but just shook his head and walked off, muttering, "I got to get back to work."
Layla grinned triumphantly at Will. "You are so still into him!" she hissed under her breath, and Will shook his head, still grinning.
Even the smallest candle burns brighter in the dark.
"Stronghold, you are, without a doubt, the most idiotic person I have ever met. Remind me again why I'm friends with you?"
Will shrugged, though of course Warren couldn't see it in the dark, and remembered the fortune cookie he'd eaten the night before. "Because I'm famous?"
Warren snorted. There was a brief silence, during which the blackness that surrounded them seemed to press inward from every side, getting darker and darker.
"This is creepy." Will shuffled around slightly, trying not to bump into anything. "I can't even see my hand. I wish Zach was here."
Warren sighed. "Zach wouldn't fit." He lifted a single finger, lighting a match-sized flame on the end. "Any better?"
In the dark, even Warren's candle-flame was bright, at least enough to illuminate his face with gently flickering light, eyes dark and reflecting flames. He was close to Will, his face only inches away, and Will could feel his heat. His mouth was open slightly, and Will wanted to lean forward and kiss it. He wanted to step just an inch closer, get in Warren's personal space. He wanted to touch the red streak in his hair, which gleamed in the flickering light. He wanted…
"Thanks," Will said. Warren glanced around.
"I still can't believe you locked us up in a supply closet."
"Hey, you were going to fight him if you saw him! And you'll get expelled if you get any more detention this month. Or at least suspended."
"Suspended. And who cares? It's Lash. The asshole's worth it."
"No, he's not."
Warren grumbled, and leaned back against the wall, making a 'hurry up' gesture at Will. He kept his finger lit. Will stared at him.
Warren rolled his eyes. They got a lot of exercise around Will. "Well, come on, kick the door open already." At Will's blank look he added, "Superstrength?"
"Oh! Right. Okay. Yeah."
To get to the door, Will had to squeeze past Warren, standing in front of him, the older boy pretty much plastered to his back.
He gulped, and hit the door a little too weakly, so that it took longer to get it open.
Once they were outside, with a good several-foot distance between their bodies, the cold air hit Will in a rush, and he shivered. He wanted to go back and press himself up against Warren again. He wanted to be locked back in the closet. He wished he didn't have superstrength and couldn't have gotten the door open.
He gulped again, and smiled at Warren. "Come on, we don't want to miss the bus."
Even the boldest zebra fears the hungry lion.
"Thanks, Layla." Will crunched up the fortune cookie, putting the fortune itself in his pocket. "I love these."
She looked uncomfortable. "Yeah, well, it's sort of… payment?"
Will frowned. "Payment?"
Layla nodded eagerly. "It's Warren. Nothing – none of the uh, personal stuff – " she added, lowering her voice. "But he's just in a really bad mood, and we're all kind of scared to go anywhere near him. He's literally heated up the air so much that I can't get within three feet of him."
Will groaned. "Layla!"
He sighed. Layla was pouting. He couldn't resist the pout. "Fine," he grumbled, and walked away, sulking.
Layla had been right, he found out, when he walked up to Warren at lunch. The air around Warren, as he approached, was noticeably warmer, and downright hot once you got close. It almost shimmered. Had he not been invulnerable, he probably would have had to retreat, too.
"Hey, Warren." Will said, hesitantly. "Um, is something wrong?"
Warren's hands lit on fire and the table beneath them began to melt. "No," he snarled.
"Really, cause you seem a little – upset!" Will squeaked the last word as Warren turned around and grabbed his shirt, lifting him off the ground.
"Oh, do I?"
Will nodded, eyes wide. He might be able to take Warren on in a fight, but it wasn't like he actually would, and the guy was exuding 'I will kill you if you come near me'.
Warren let go, shoving Will back. "Go away, Stronghold," he spat. "Leave me alone."
Will nodded again, practically trembling, and left. He returned a few seconds later with his lunch, and sat down next to his friend.
Warren's growl rumbled through his throat, and Will tried not to faint (a combination of fear and that sound was hot) as he took a bite of his macaroni.
He stayed there all through lunch, not saying a word to Warren, and sat next to him on the bus home. The air stayed hot, and Warren didn't talk to him anymore, but also didn't light him on fire, so Will considered it a success.
Warren looked at him and smiled, as he got off at his bus stop. It wasn't his usual smile, it was different, and Will wanted to redo the day many times over, just to relive that moment again and again.
Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart, what is true.
He was out on a date at the Paper Lantern. A set-up date. His parents had set him up. Will tried to process this, but it was hard. He hadn't really been out on a date since Layla – and for good reason. But his parents didn't know the reason, and so had set him up.
Well, she was nice. Really. Will liked her, probably enough to ask her out again. Her parents were also famous heroes, and she was a hero, and she was a really nice person. She liked him and he liked her. She lived in the same neighborhood as him and Layla, upper-class suburban Middleton. She had a car. She was his age.
She could teleport.
She had a really nice smile, and Will could bet she had an equally nice kiss. She got good grades and was going to be successful when she graduated. She would get along with the gang, even if they were mostly sidekicks. She was sweet.
She was perfect for him.
Will had that all processed and understood, and ready to act on, and then Warren walked past.
Will's heart sped up and his stomach clenched, and when Warren gave him a smile he felt a wave of heat pass over him that had nothing to do with superpowers.
Warren wasn't rich – he went to Sky High on scholarship. He was the son of a supervillian. He was a guy. He was mean and sarcastic and mocked Will every day. He was a year and a half older than Will.
He hadn't ever had a steady relationship before, not that anyone knew of. He was always in trouble at school. He was smart. He was a loner. He hated Will's family. He already got along with Will's friends, seeing as he was Will's best friend. He was straight.
He was terrible for Will.
But Will didn't kiss Jenny goodnight, and didn't ask her out again.
They were an intelligent entity.
Oh, it's you.
Will felt like he spent his whole life at the Paper Lantern these days; and his fortune cookie only confirmed it. Everyone else was busy – Layla had even gotten a boyfriend, a sidekick who could only grow lemons. Warren was the only one who seemed to always be around – and that was only because Will hung out at his work.
Even worse, he hung out at Warren's work to ogle Warren.
Will had long ago passed through denial. He and Warren had been friends for almost three years now, and he'd liked the guy for almost two of them. Well, by this point he was pretty sure it was more than just liking. More than just a thing or a crush or an infatuation.
What it was, he really didn't want to say out loud, because that would be most pathetic of all.
Still, Will was – just like, apparently, the fortune cookies – getting exasperated. He was sick of waiting. He was sick of hiding out and making up excuses for why he didn't have dates. He was sick of arguing with Layla about why he couldn't tell Warren. He was sick of surreptitiously sneaking glances of Warren. He was sick of – of pining.
He was going to tell him.
Warren, seeing him, walked over, dropping two fortune cookies on the table, along with a container of noodles, which he began to eat..
"Hey," he said. "I'm on my break. Tell me something interesting."
Will shook his head. "Fortune cookies always come first, Warren." He opened his.
Love is friendship set on fire.
I was inspired to write this story by the quote, "Love is friendship set on fire". It's my first Sky High fic, so I hope you all like it.
And also, I was considering possibly doing a sequel, in which Will makes his move, possibly centering around the same quote, or a different one. Opinions? (Later A/N - I did write one, and it's called Fate In Flames if you want to check it out)
Oh yeah, and sorry about the lack of the gang. I mentioned them, a little, but I just don't think I'm ready to actually write them in yet. Layla, Warren, and Will are all I can handle.