Invisible Girl

Chapter Twenty-One

It was the middle of May, graduation at long last. The days had flown by after the drama with prom, Phantom, and the recital, plus the recovery. Life wasn't slowing down as caps and gowns were assigned and finals were quickly approaching. Sammy, Lash, and Speed had to cram for their last tests, the boys needing to score above a C to pass their Mad Science lab even with Sammy's good marks to pull them along. Their nights were busy with notecards, high lighters and Sammy working to keep the boys focused on the studying at hand instead of goofing off like they would prefer.

Now with the last tests taken, there was only the graduation to get through. The final hurdle of their high school careers. Compared to everything else, it should be a breeze. What was it to sit through a graduation speech and accept a diploma when they've faced monstrous villains and burning theaters, overcoming emotional hurdles and learning to work together? It should be boringly simple but somehow the blonde was still anxious.

"Lash, are you ready yet?" called Sammy as she hurried up to the lanky Hero. The students were backstage with the curtains closed and getting ready to take their seats. The girl made her way over in her slight heels, dressed fully with her graduation gown zipped, the cap sitting properly on top of her wavy asymmetrical hair. The Hero, on the other hand, was wearing his gown unzipped, shirt barely tucked in, and tie askew. She gave an exhausted sigh.

"Yeah, pretty much," answered Lash with a shrug. Sammy groaned as she stepped right up to him, taking his sloppy tie and fixing it, though perhaps a bit too tightly due to his slight choke.

"Oops, sorry," she corrected, loosening it enough for him to breathe and smoothing it against his chest. Her scarred hands subconsciously fluttered out of her line of sight and brushed down her gown for the umpteenth time.

"Calm down, blondie. We're nearly done," he reassured, zipping up his own gown. He gave his cap a tug as it kept daring to slip to the back. Maybe he should have trimmed his hair a bit.

"I know. It's just that—well, we're almost done—soon to be Heroes and all," she explained, slightly breathless due to nerves.

"About time too," he agreed. "We finally get to take our show on the road." There was a blast of air as Speed suddenly appeared between them, clapping them both heartily on the shoulder, making their knees buckle. At least he was fully dressed, if a bit wrinkled.

"It's time."

Giving a nod, the three moved to take their assigned seats, the Sidekick seated in between the two Heroes. The other classmates took their seats as well, Sidekicks paired with their Heroes. Sammy turned in her seat to see Layla and Will chatting together, and then near the back she could see Warren Peace and Amelia Watson sitting quietly side by side. The fire Hero had a small smile while Amelia appeared content, closing her eyes. The blonde gave a smile of her own. Sure, her previous crush didn't work out, but it was for the better and she was quite happy for the two. It was so wonderful to see the difference in the pairings in comparison to the beginning of the spring semester, when everyone was unsure and hesitant around their Hero or Sidekick. She was certainly leagues beyond where she had started with her Hero. Now everyone was ready to move onto the next step.

The curtains started to open and she turned her gaze forward, being sure to pull the long sleeves of her gown as far down as possible to cover her scarred hands. She took a deep breath as the lighting came to life, highlighting the seniors and once more she was overly aware of her physical appearance. It was a shallow thing but she couldn't help but dwell on it. Trying to distract herself, she gazed out into the crowd and tried to find her parents. Her spirits lifted when she spotted them off to the left side and she couldn't help but grin when she saw that Lauren had also managed to come along. As much as it was to see her friend graduate, the Sidekick was well aware that she was also there to see Speed. Since she and Sammy were best friends, Lauren wasted no time in getting up to date with all things Hero and confessed that she was crushing hard on the super-fast teen. After seeing him in action with the theater fire, it couldn't be helped that he swept her off her feet. Obviously, Sammy did not tell Speed outright but whenever the opportunity came up to mention Lauren she was very attentive to his reaction and was not disappointed.

Principal Powers walked across the stage and took her place at the podium that stood off to the side so to present the graduating class. She stood tall and proud as she gave a smile to the audience and then to the students.

"Well, here we are at last. The year has come to close and new Heroes are about to enter the world and start saving the day,"

A polite applause came from the parents, some of the younger siblings craning their necks to get a better look at the graduating Heroes and Sidekicks. Sammy sat with her back pin straight, keeping her posture exact, not to mention that it would difficult for her parents to see her otherwise. Lash, although, was relaxed in his chair with his legs outstretched beneath the chair stationed in front of him, arms loosely crossed. She noticed his casual demeanor with her peripheral vision and felt a slight sting of jealousy. She wished that she could feel comfortable in front of so many people under the spotlight. It wasn't like dancing on stage. In that case, she would've have had the chance to practice, to have structured steps in her mind that she would need to follow. They weren't on stage to perform a show, they were the show. People were there to observe them, to take note of their accomplishments, and to judge them. She tried to tug the sleeves further of her hands so to cover the ugly scars she earned from the Phantom battle, unable to shake off the feeling that everyone was staring at them.

Principal Powers continued her speech, praising the students for their hard work and wishing them the very best as they headed out to the real world, which she promised was in their capable hands. There was a flutter of movement and Sammy did her best not to flinch when she felt something brush against the side of her hand. Glancing to the side, she noticed that Lash had lightly linked his smallest finger with hers and now their hands were resting between their seats ever so slightly intertwined.

"No disappearing act," he whispered. Some of her edge fell away when she saw that he was smirking at her though his gaze remained forward. She smiled softly to herself. It was so strange to think that she was terrified to interact with him at the beginning of the semester. He was a bully that thoroughly intimidated her and she made sure to stay out of his way, his and Speed's. Now she was sitting between the very two and fear was the farthest thing from her mind. In fact, it was where she would prefer to be. She felt safe with them.

Her anxiety and nervous disposition seemed to melt away when she was with them, especially Lash. She liked to think it was because she was now friends and teammates with the two, but she was more comfortable with Lash as he was her original Hero. Their personal relationship had grown leaps and bounds over the past few months. They had experienced a gauntlet of emotions with each other and their bond only seemed to grow stronger. Then there was everything that happened with Phantom. Her scars seemed to prickle at the thought.

When Phantom, her power predecessor, had plunged his hand into Lash's chest she felt her world come to a screeching halt. Every nerve of hers was soaked in fear as she stared up in horror, the theater burning down around them. Their images were blurred from the black smoke but Phantom was giving off the eerie glow and she could see his arm stretched out and Lash had gone so still.

Lash—no…Jason was facing death. Phantom had his claw buried in chest, ready to rip out his heart. It would only take the barest flick of his wrist and her Hero would fall. So it didn't even take a conscious thought for her to use her ability to bypass his physical state and take his spot, forcing Phantom to latch onto her own heart. She couldn't really remember what happened afterward. Just that it was dark with smoke and then everything she knew was suddenly absorbed in brilliant white light.

Honestly, she thought she had died.

"And now…it is time to announce our Hero of the Year," said Principal Powers. Her voice registered to the girl and the sound of the crowd whispering in interest brought her from her thoughts.

That's right, the Hero of the Year Award. Every graduation ceremony the award was presented to the highest achieved Hero in the class. Academically or from their work in the more hands on classes. Sometimes a Hero and their Sidekick could receive it but that was fairly rare. Like the rest of her classmates, she started to look around and make her own guesses as to who would receive it this year. Will Stronghold? He had the best track record ever since freshman year, not to mention that he was the son of two well-known Heroes. Taking a quick glance at the two Hero ranked students sitting beside her, she felt a warm bloom of pride and she found herself hoping they would be the recipients. With everything that happened with Phantom, they certainly were the most deserving of the award. They took the initiative and removed the civilians from the rapidly unraveling situation, thus saving potentially hundreds of lives.

Principal Powers set a small glass statue on the podium and spoke again, some people holding their breath in anticipation. Oh how Sammy hoped her teammates were the ones who won. It would be complete redemption from the mess that occurred during freshman year.

"This year certainly hasn't been easy. There have been plenty of ups and down and not to mention a villainous danger that took place at Sky High this year," began Powers. "The year's recipient has gone above and beyond. They have protected innocent people as well as their own classmates from a vicious danger known as Phantom. They fought back against seemingly unwinnable odds and proved that good is always able to overcome evil."

Sammy leaned toward Lash so to smile and whisper, "It's going to be you and Speed!"

For once, he didn't say a word and only smirked in return. Confused, she turned back to the front to see the principal who was now turning her body toward the senior class.

"I am proud to present this year's Hero of the Year Award to Samantha Winchester!"

The lights seemed brighter as the applause filled the auditorium. Stunned, she didn't know what to do as her fellow classmates were turning in their chairs to look back at her. Suddenly, she felt Lash's hand resting against her back and it only took him a small push of strength to smoothly help her to her feet. Body working on autopilot, she found herself walking across the stage, seemingly weightless as she moved toward the principal. She remembered to smile as she shook Principal Powers hand and the statue was cool against her skin and she gripped it tightly, terrified that she'd drop the prestigious award.

Jason Livingston watched his girl with immeasurable pride. Of course, she had been star struck when her name was called and it took a little nudge from him to get her moving. He knew weeks before that she was going to be the one who was awarded. Principal Powers had approached both him and Speed to discuss the matter of the award as well as the formal discussion of the Phantom case. She wanted to know exactly what happened from their standpoint so to have some of the information before she called Samantha in to hear her side of the story.

As difficult as it was to recount the incident, the two told the principal all that they knew. It wasn't as if it was a struggle to recall what had happened, it was all too clear for him to remember. The choking black smoke, the blistering fire, the searing pain of Phantom thrusting his hand into his chest and the fact that he couldn't fight back, unable to touch the villain due to his lack of a physical state. He could recount every moment. The moment when Phantom took the stage. The second the fire alarm sounded and they escorted the civilians away from the scene. Hearing Phantom's voice and sending a perfect punch that hit him square in the face. He distinctively remembered the sound of Sammy screaming, "Behind you!" and the feeling of ice filling his chest, coating his heart.

Even nearly having his heart ripped out wasn't as terrifying as what happened next.

There was another chill down his spine and a burst of power threw him to the side, his heart free from immediate death. Coughing from the invasion and the thick rolling smoke, breathing was still painful as he tried to push himself onto all fours. Eyes stinging, he was able to blearily make out the forms of Phantom and Sammy Now it was her with Phantom's hand in her chest, gripping her heart. Both figures looked as if they were glowing in some sort of way. While Phantom's glow was gritty and swirling with energy, Sammy's light was at first subtle and steadily increasing. He couldn't explain what was happening, only that they were somehow able to connect with each other despite their non-corporal state. The theater was continuing to break down around them and he couldn't hear what they were saying, only that Phantom was starting to panic and trying to pull away. For some reason he couldn't break the hold and Sammy's light was filling her up from the inside, visible through the smoke like a beacon.

He remembered trying to crawl toward them but with his weakened breathing and the energy they were giving off, he couldn't get close enough to interfere. The brightness only seemed to grow and soon Sammy was blinding. He could see her skin begin to break from her hands and up her arms, as if her body wasn't strong enough to contain whatever power she had managed to breach. When her body started to break, his heart went cold with fear. She needed to stop. Whatever she was doing, she had to stop. It wasn't worth defeating Phantom if it destroyed her too.

Nothing was worth losing her.

Before he could stop them, her very soul seemed to flare and she drowned the theater in one moment of brilliancy and he screamed for her with ounce of his power. His skin still crawled at the sound of her body dropping heavily to the floor, not a single sound coming from her.

He gave his head a firm shake to dislodge the memories and to focus of the happy moment, clapping along with everyone. There was still work to be done between them, which was to be expected. The school even required that they visit some shrink to make sure they were medically and mentally sound to proceed with their Hero careers, that none of them had a change of heart from the experience, to use a phrase ironically. He knew full well they were mostly concerned about Sammy as she was the one with the most exposure to Phantom and his sick games, and she had ended up in the hospital from whatever supernova stunt she pulled to take him down. There was no real term for what she did. The doctors thought she might've tapped into the core of her powers and that was why her body had started to break down because it was being flooded with raw, unfiltered power. Not that Sammy actually knew any of that. Lash had gleaned the information when he was eavesdropping on the medical staff. It was better that she didn't know, anyway. If they were correct, she very nearly obliterated herself, mind, soul, and body. She couldn't properly recall anything after she took his place and Phantom held her heart.

She was doing the best she could, given the circumstances. She still smiled and took his teasing, returning with her own smart jabs. The only lingering issue was that she was very, very self-conscious about her scars and appearance. They ran from her fingertips and up the length of her arms. Fortunately she was already especially pale in regards to skin tone but the scars stood out as thin pearl fissures. There were small swatches of minor burns from the fire and she told him that there was serious bruising and minor scars from where Phantom had used his strength to slam her into the stage, the wooden planks breaking under her from the force. The fire had singed her hair so badly that it had to be cut and it was now a short, asymmetrical cut that was above her shoulders.

The new additions to her body didn't bother him in the slightest and he was sure to tell her whenever he could tell that it was bothering her. He reassured that it made her look way more badass and that would always make her laugh. But it was the truth. He didn't care one bit that she bore battle scars because he was thrilled with the sheer fact that she was alive.

Sammy was now returning to her seat with the award in her hands and he gave her a troublemaking grin. She took her seat and Speed was the first to give her a pat on the back in congratulations.

"You both knew about this?" she asked, breathless. Her cheeks were bright pink from all of the attention, he noted.

"What? Little ol' us?" he teased. "I had no idea. What about you, Speed?"

"None whatsoever," his friend agreed. She huffed as she looked between the two of them. Though she tried to pretend that she was angry, her smile broke through and her blush deepened.

"Thank you," she told them quietly.

"Don't thank us," shrugged Speed, nonchalantly.

Lash chimed in, leaning in toward her. "He's right. Just thank me. How about a kiss, blondie?"

Smiling, she brought her hand to his cheek and lingered a moment before gently moving his face so that he was looking forward again. He smirked to himself, so that's how it was going to be. No matter, he'd get his kiss one way or the other.

Next, it was time for the class to stand and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. The processional was simple and straight forward enough. When it was his turn to step forward at the sound of his formal name, he could've sworn that Principal Power looked remotely proud of him. He gave a cheeky wink to ruin the budding moment and her stern look returned and he happily took his diploma and followed the blonde girl back to their seats.

It was the following segment that was the closing portion of the graduation. The students were now all paying special attention, Heroes and their Sidekick exchanging knowing looks.

"Now, we present to you, this year's Heroes!"

Pair by pair then took center stage, transforming from the graduation gowns to their newly made Hero and Sidekick costumes for the parents to see what form they would take as they defended the city. Will Stronghold and his Sidekick Layla were sporting similar designed outfit while keeping to their own color themes: red, white, and blue for Will, and shades of green for Layla, both looks complete with a cape. The crowd cheered and the next set took their place. Warren Peace and his sidekick Amelia Watson calmly stepped up. Warren used a blast of fire to reveal his outfit that consisted of mostly black with small swatches of deep red. Amelia had used some of her mental powers because one moment she was there, then she was out of focus, and the next she was standing her new clothing that was the same deep red and highlighted with black, the inversion of her Hero's look. The people clapped and it was then their turn.

The three then took center stage and they gave a cheeky wave before Speed set into motion. Speed began to circle the two and they were all unable to be seen. It only took a moment to change and when he came to a stop they were all in their proper gear. Their colors were naturally black and white with their own accent color. Speed chose dark purple, Lash naturally picked orange, and Sammy selected light blue. The stripe patterns varied for each of them: Speed wore them at cuffs of his outfit, similar to his normal clothes. Lash had them from his gloved fingers all the way to his shoulders. Sammy then had them from her wrists to her biceps, the gloves and shoulder pieces kept white. Overall, enough similarity to know that they were a set, but enough personalization to be their own individual.

They stood tall as the audience clapped for them. They were a three-man team that was to be known as the Triad.

Codenames: Sonic Speed, Whiplash, and Ghost.

After the last pair stood before the crowd the graduation was brought to a close. It was finally official. They managed to graduate from Sky High. Now everything else in life was up to them. College, work, and their superhero careers were now all in their hands. If they decide to turn dark side it was entirely within their power and no detention chamber would be able to stop them.

Lash looked over at Sammy who had thrown her gown on over her costume as she spoke and smiled with her parents and friends. Not that he was interested in taking the Villain status, not anymore. A jostle drew him from his thoughts and suddenly the parents were pushing the three graduates together for pictures. Sammy was placed in the middle since she was the shortest and they took the appropriate pictures, smiling and looking at each camera that was held up at them. Lash's arm was easily around her waist as they posed and an idea came to mind.

There was a brief pause when all of the cameras were lowered and the lanky Hero quickly scooped up his Sidekick, who yelped in sheer surprise, and used his natural ability to stretch his stride so that they had exited the gym in only three paces.

"Lash! What're you doing?!" yipped the girl. Her arms were thrown around his neck as he held her, one arm around her back and another under her knees.

"Getting a bit of fresh air."

Once they were outside, he used his ability again, stretching up higher than he would comfortably go but he had a scheme in mind. Sammy was trying to remain perfectly still, her grip impossibly tight as she held onto him for dear life. Well, he supposed it was scary to be a few stories high in the high with only a set of arms to keep a person from falling. Soon, they reached the roof landing and he carefully set her door before gripping the railing and allowing the rest of his body to catch up and swing onto the platform himself.

"Come on, Jason, we're supposed to be with the others," Sammy tried to scold but the reprimand only repelled off of him. He smirked and leaned against the railing. Realizing that her words were having no effect she sighed in defeat and gave an amused smile.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"I like it when you say my name."

The abruptness of his comment seemed to stun her because it took a moment for her to blush. Although it was difficult to tell with the mask from their uniform still on her face.

"Wh—why would you say something like that?" she stammered. He shrugged.

"Because it's true. Plus it's so fun to make you blush. Not to mention easy."

"Jason Livingston—" She was about to scold him again when he sent his arm out and wrapped around her waist securely before quickly bringing her to him. He was standing when she bumped into him, her hands resting against his chest to catch herself.

"Now," he began, slowly brushing her cheek with his hand before removing the mask and dropping it to the floor. "You were saying?"

Her blush was bright in the late afternoon sun and she failed to keep her expression schooled, her smiling breaking her façade. He found himself noticing the sun light filtering through the strands of her white blonde hair. She always looked lovely in the sun.

"I was saying that, you're ridiculous," she told him. "And we really should get back to the others. You've left poor Speed alone with the parents."

"He'll manage," he dismissed. Returning his arms to their normal length, his hands settled on her waist as he leaned in toward her, their torsos touching, making her tilt her head up to look at him. Bright blue eyes looked back at him and he felt himself slowly moving closer, drawn to her like some sort of magnet.

"Besides…you still owe me a kiss..."

"Not yet."

Blinking in his confusion, her slender hands lifted the mask he wore and let it flutter to the ground. He had forgotten that he was wearing it as well. His own heart gave a particular strong beat when she smiled up at him.

"There. Much better."

Her hands were soft against his jaw as she tenderly kept one hand against his cheek while the other curved around the back of his neck. He took his time closing the distance between them, savoring every moment. When their lips finally met and she rose onto her tiptoes to lean against him, he wrapped his arms around her tightly and pressed their bodies together.

With all of his bad history and terrible reputation that always seemed to proceed him, it seemed as if he would turn out all right in the end. He had the best Sidekick he never knew he needed and she far more than he deserved. His best friend was assigned to their unit, and they all managed to survive a true Villain attack and graduate superhero high school. In comparison, everything else should be a breeze.

The two had to part for air and he rested his forehead against hers, the blonde and brown hair mixing. It didn't take long for them to lose track of time as they stayed hidden away on the roof of the floating school, the sun beginning to set.

Maybe being a Hero wouldn't be that bad.

REVIEW! I know I've been a terrible author and I've neglected this story for too long but here we are at long last! It is the official end of "Invisible Girl"! To be honest, I'm kinda sad about it, Lash and Sammy were so much fun to write and to have interact together.

Oh! Like I said last chapter (before I fell off the face of the earth, as per usual) I did offer the idea of a BONUS chapter where I would include random notes that I had for an alternative type of ending, notes I made in general, a hot and heavy make out scene, and if you all wanted any scenes, feel free to let me know and I'll try to write them up and include them! I'll try to make a mega bonus chapter because I would only upload one extra chapter. The story will read as "Complete" after this chapter but I'll tack the bonus one on afterwards.

So I hope you all enjoyed because I enjoyed writing it! Thank you all so much for your time, patience, and thoughts!