Disclaimer: I do not own Static Shock
Warnings: Talk of sexuality (shouldn't be anything triggering), use of a homophobic slur,
A/N: Finally. Here we go. Don't ask me when the next update is, because I have no clue. xD
Ring, ring. Ring, ring.
"Bridget? It's Maggie."
"Oh, my God! I haven't heard from you in ages, sis! How are you? How's little Richie? Jesus, he has to be, what, sixteen now? Seventeen? All grown up now, huh, Mags?"
Maggie sighed and rubbed her forehead. Her sister had always been a chatterbox, leaving no room for anyone to interject.
"I miss you so much, little sis," Bridget continued. "When are you coming to visit me? I get lonely all by myself in lonesome Minnesota, you know."
"Actually, Bee," Maggie said quickly. "That's what I was calling about. Do you think Richie and I could come and stay with you for a little while?"
"Of course!" Bridget cried, causing Maggie to flinch and hold the phone away from her ear. "You know I always have room for family! I'll set up the guest room for you and Shawn, and Richie can take the pull-out couch in the family room. That is, if he still fits in it, of course! He must have grown so much since I last saw him!"
"Slow down, Bridget. First of all, Shawn… won't be with us this time."
"You mean that bear of a husband of yours can't take two days off to spend time with his favorite sister-in-law? What a schmuck! His loss, then. Just means more pie for us three after dinner! I swear, Shawn always hogged that pie. Every single time, I'd be serving him, what, three or four pieces? How is he? Still working with that construction company? And still no promotion, I bet. He works so hard, that Shawn, and never gets a decent reward. He –"
"I'm leaving Shawn, Bee," Maggie blurted, cutting her sister off. "I'm leaving him, and I need to get Richie and me out of Dakota for a while."
"Oh, Mags," Bridget said softly. "I'm so sorry. Are you all right? How's Richie taking it?"
"We're both fine. We just need to have a new environment. I was hoping we could stay with you for a few weeks while I transferred Richie to the local high school and found us an apartment."
"You are always welcome here, Maggie. Stay as long as you need."
"I never did apologize to you, Virgil," Richie said. The two boys were lying on Virgil's bed after their pillow fight, trying to catch their breath. "For what I did at school and the Burger Fool."
"Dude, you don't have to apologize for all that. You were just… expressing yourself."
Richie rolled his eyes. "That's one way to put it. But seriously, I shouldn't have… kissed you like that. And pushed you away when you tried to talk. It was a dick move."
Virgil rolled onto his side to face Richie. "Well, I accept your apology, even though I think it's unnecessary." He paused. "Did I tell you that Daisy kissed me?"
"What?!" Richie's eyes widened as he looked over at Virgil, who laughed.
"Yep. Tuesday during Psych." He rolled onto his back again and put his hands behind his head nonchalantly.
"C'mon, you gotta tell the whole story. You can't stop there."
"We were watching a movie on cutting, ironically, and I stepped out of the room for a little bit. She followed, all worried about me, and we were talking in the hallway. One thing led to another, and her lips were on mine." He shook his head. "Didn't feel right though. Not with that movie on my mind and you in the hospital and her knowing that I was upset. I pushed her away and left to go to the nurse's office."
Richie raised an eyebrow. "Seriously? You have been trying to get with that girl for months, and you push her away?"
"I dunno," Virgil replied with a shrug. "Like I said. Didn't feel right."
"So that's it? Nothing's gonna happen with you two?"
"Maybe one day."
"Graduation is only a few months away, Virg. Who knows if you'll even see her again after that?"
Virgil sighed. "I know. But it's like, with all of this happening so suddenly, everything feels… different. And I mean, I feel like I shouldn't be one to talk, since I'm just a spectator in this whole scenario, but it's really put things into perspective for me. Who cares if I date my high school crush or not? We all know that Daisy and I wouldn't last for very long anyway."
Richie snorted. "That's for sure. Freida and I had a bet on how long you would last. Technically this means she won, since she said that you'd last a day compared to my bet of a week."
Virgil glared at Richie. "Gee, thanks, best friend in the whole world. Nice to know you're confident about my love life."
"Don't mention it, V. Glad to be part of your support system."
They both laughed and were quiet for a moment before Virgil took a deep breath.
"Can I ask you a sort of personal question?"
Virgil bit the inside of his cheek, not really sure how to verbalize the thoughts in his head. "Remember when you came out to me?"
Richie smirked. "Vividly."
"Well, you said there were all sorts of different… sexualities." Virgil trailed off.
"Yes, that's true. Why do you ask?"
He closed his eyes, feeling uncomfortable for some reason, and tried to pretend to be relaxed. "What else are there? I mean, you mentioned a few briefly, but never really went into detail."
"Oh. Um…" Richie furrowed his brow, wondering why Virgil wanted more details. "I guess I could teach you a thing or two. You've got the obvious ones that everyone knows: gay, straight and bi. Lesbian is often categorized under gay, but some people prefer it to be separate, hence the whole LGBT acronym. After that it gets a little deeper. Remember how I said that gender can be fluid?"
Virgil nodded. "Yeah. Like, there isn't just male and female, but all sorts of… things in between?"
"More or less," Richie said with a smile. "That's the gist of it, really. The basic premise is that while your biological sex may be assigned as male or female at birth, your gender – what you identify as in your head – can be any number of genders on the spectrum."
"And you also said that sexuality is the same thing, right? A spectrum?"
"Mmhmm. Since the most-commonly known sexualities focus on liking males or females, a bunch more have been becoming more popular recently, due to the fact that they take both the gender and sexuality spectrums into account. Basically, you just need to learn the prefixes."
Virgil listened intently as Richie explained how different prefixes were attached to the words "sexual" and "romantic" to be able to describe a person's preferences in a very specific manner. He absorbed every word that came out of Richie's mouth, and asked questions as they came up.
"And that's about it," Richie said as he finished up. "Between all of that, most people feel comfortably labeled. There's always a few people who prefer to find new terms, or come up with their own terms, because they feel like none of these really describe them. My favorite was a girl who was dating an agendered person named Alex, so she called herself Alex-sexual. That was cute."
Virgil let all the new information sink in. "There's so much out there," he said. "I never questioned it. I thought you had a choice of one, the other, or both. How do people even decide on a label?"
Richie shrugged. "Some people just know. Others, like me, had to experiment just a little."
Virgil raised an eyebrow, causing Richie to blush.
"Not like that, idiot. Stuff like… kissing, I guess. Lots of thinking about different things." Richie ran his hand through his hair. "There was a boy, in junior high," he explained softly. "He was in my math class and I'd help him with homework sometimes, remember?"
"Yeah. He moved the next year, didn't he?"
"Well, we were at his house one day, and… well, we kissed. It was my first kiss, and it was… really nice." Richie started at the ceiling for a moment, his eyes glazed over, before Virgil brought him back.
"You kissed a boy in junior high and never told me?" he asked, feigning offense. "How could you, Richie?"
They both laughed.
"Hey, why'd you want to know all this, anyway?" asked Richie. "I mean, I appreciate that you're educating yourself on issues, but it seems very… out of the blue, I guess."
"Just been thinking about it lately," Virgil said, brushing it off. "You hungry? I'm gonna go downstairs and grab some snacks."
"Sure. Bring me back a soda, too."
Richie watched Virgil stand and exit the room, still wondering about the conversation they had. He had a hunch as to why Virgil was so interested, but was almost afraid to believe it was true. There was no way that Virgil was anything but straight.
The chair smashed against the wall with a crash and splintered into pieces. Soon, broken dishes joined the mess on the floor, along with a few pots and pans that were too durable to crack. Shawn clenched his fists and narrowed his eyes, glaring around the kitchen for his next victim. He kicked the table strongly, causing the leg to buckle. The table slanted, and the flower vase Maggie used as a centerpiece slid off and shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces on the floor.
Something had to be done about his family. This crap they were pulling was not acceptable. A wife should be loyal to her husband, no matter what. They had made vows regarding that! In sickness and in health, through better or worse. She had promised him that they would stick together, and now she's chosen an ungrateful faggot of a son over her own husband.
Shawn took a long drink from the bottle of beer sitting on the counter, and when it was empty, he threw it at the wall before wiping his mouth obscenely with the back of his hand. He staggered into the living room and dropped to the sofa, still fuming angry.
I'll do whatever it takes to get them back.
When Virgil came back upstairs, he was trying to balance a bowl of chips and two glasses of soda without dropping anything. Richie jumped up from the bed to help, but Virgil brushed him off.
"I've got this, thanks. Your mom wanted you downstairs."
"All right. Pick a movie or something, but wait for me to get back."
"You got it."
Richie left the room and went downstairs, where Maggie was sitting in the living room. She was writing in a notebook and seemed intensely focused.
"What's up, mom?" Richie asked, jolting her from her concentration. "Virgil said you wanted me?"
Maggie put her notebook down on the coffee table and patted the couch next to her, inviting Richie to sit. He did. "Richie," she started. "I've set up for you and me to go Aunt Bridget's for a little while."
Richie's eyebrows drew together in confusion. "Why? We haven't seen her in years. And I have school. Doesn't seem very logical to go all the way to Minnesota for just the weekend."
"We're going to stay with her, Richie," Maggie said carefully. "Until we can get back on our feet. There's a lovely high school only a mile from her house, and it has wonderful science and math programs."
"What?!" Richie felt the air leave his lungs as his eyes widened. "No. No way! I don't want to move! I'm not leaving Dakota!"
"It's for the best, honey."
"Maybe for you! I have friends here, mom. Virgil and Freida and Daisy. You expect me to just up and leave everything behind? I'm almost done with high school. I have to protect –" Richie cut himself off. It had been years since he had begun protecting Dakota as Gear, but he had never quite gotten the nerve to tell his mom.
"You have to protect what, sweetie?"
He shook his head. "Never mind. I don't care what you say. I'm not going."
Maggie sighed. "We can't stay here, Richie. You know as well as I do that it's too dangerous. At Bridget's we'll be able to rest and start a new life for ourselves. You'll make new friends, I know you will. And it's not like you'll never talk to Virgil and the others. You can write letters and call each other all the time."
She reached out to put a comforting hand on his shoulder, but he held up his hands and moved away. "Please don't touch me right now," he said with a slight waver in his voice. "I'm not going, and that's that. Now, I'm going to go upstairs and I don't want to talk to you right now." Richie stood up and stalked away before Maggie could get another word out. He stormed up the stairs and slammed the door behind him in Virgil's room, whose eyes widened when he saw how upset Richie was.
"What happened down there?"
Richie took a deep breath to try to calm down. "She wants us to move to Minnesota and I said no," he stated simply, and then walked over to the bed and sat down next to Virgil. "What movie did you pick?"
"What's in Minnesota anyway that's so important to her?"
Richie held up a hand to quiet him. "What movie?"
"Virgil. What movie?"
With a sigh, Virgil pressed play on the remote control, and the credits for one of their favorite monster movies began to scroll across the screen. Richie stared straight ahead, arms crossed and eyes narrowed, and no matter how many times Virgil tried to talk to him, his words were ignored.
This wasn't going to end well.
A/N1: All right, I owe everyone an explanation. In case you couldn't tell from the way I wrote this story, I've struggled on and off with SH for about three and a half years now. One of the ways I coped was writing instead of cutting. When I finally started to get better and go longer without cutting, I was worried that trying to write Richie like this would trigger me again, so I've been holding off on coming back to these boys. Now, however, I've gone over a year without SH and feel confident that I can do my best to continue. I can't guarantee any regular updates (not that I ever did them before) but I do plan on continuing to the best of my abilities. This also means that if, for some reason, I end up getting triggered, I may need to go on another temporary hiatus. I hope you all understand!
A/N2: Now that the excuses are out of the way, I wanted to explain about what I've been working on with this story. First of all, I went through all 18 previously posted chapters and revised/updated. Very little was changed, with the exception of chapter 18. I suggest that you re-read ch18 so that you can be on the same page as me as the story continues. Other than that, there is no need to re-read the entire story, unless you want to. It was just a lot of grammar, spelling, and tense issues that I wasn't fond of. In addition, I've also chosen a new title, How A Hero Bleeds. When I first picked the title Richie's Release, I never expected this to turn into such a long-winded story. I just wrote the first chapter as a way to distract myself from my own addiction. I've always hated that title, tbh, and my friends would (lovingly!) make fun of it, saying that it sounded like something sexual. So I've decided to take this opportunity to re-vamp the story from top to bottom, including the title. Let me know if you think it fits!
I'll stop talking now. Thanks, everyone! 3