Disclaimer: I don't own Sky High.
Read on, oh faithful ones...
Chapter Thirty Two
Warren kissed Layla eagerly, his body rising above hers as she gripped his shoulder tightly with one hand while her other trailed along his abs gently. Layla smiled against his lips as she felt his stomach clench at her action, then he retaliated with a hand slipping under her shirt and her breath caught in her throat. He pulled away, licking his lips as he looked down at Layla, her red hair bright in the moon's light. She raised herself up on her elbows, pulling him in for another kiss, and Warren concentrated on nothing but her lips, her gasping little moans, her body warm beneath his and flush against him, and the way she responded to every touch and kiss he gave her.
There was a vibrating noise and Layla's phone lit up as she received a text. Warren groaned in annoyance, sorely tempted to set her damn phone alight.
"Sorry, Warren," Layla said, sighing as she slid out from under him to answer her phone. "Honey says she'll make it up to us."
"I don't see how that helps me right now," Warren muttered with a groan.
Layla smiled and kissed his cheek gently. "We knew that Honey was going to interrupt us; just be grateful we weren't doing more than making out," she murmured.
Warren groaned and flopped down onto Layla's bed, her words not helping him at all. "Give me a minute to get under control... That means you can't be in here looking like that," he added with a barely-repressed smirk.
"Like what?" Layla asked in confusion, going over to her mirror dresser. "Oh, wow," she said in surprise, taking up her brush to tame her wild hair. "When did you give me a hickey?" Layla asked, her fingers touching to the bruise that was starting to form on the curve of her shoulder.
"I think it was somewhere between you scraping my chest to pieces and that hip-roll thing you like to torture me with," Warren muttered.
Layla grinned at him in the reflection of her mirror, brushing her hair back into a ponytail, and watching with a sense of disappointment as Warren pulled his shirt back over his head.
They slipped out of Layla's window a few minutes later, both silent as they made their way up the street to the bus stop. The key for the Beast felt heavy in Layla's pocket, and she gripped it tightly, mentally reminding herself to wipe the key clean before putting it back in the Mayor's desk drawer.
Layla kept glancing towards the Mayor's office every few minutes. She was worried that he would somehow know what she'd done and that she'd be fired on the spot. Layla tried to keep her thoughts and feelings pleasant, knowing that there was an empath sitting only a few cubicles away.
The Mayor hummed a little tune under his breath. His wife had finally forgiven him, and he'd managed to actually get some work done the night he'd come back to the office. The public still loved him, so all was right in his world. He opened his top drawer, pushed a few things to the side to make room and placed the neatly folded spare tie down before closing the drawer again.
"Layla," he called, looking over to where she was seated in front of his office.
She jumped in surprise, and he tried not to chuckle at how engrossed she must be in her work for him to shock her like that.
"Yes, Mr. Mayor?" Layla asked hesitantly.
In her mind all she could think of was 'oh shit, oh shit, oh shit' and there was no way that her feelings or thoughts were anything remotely pleasant right then.
"Send a bunch of flowers to my wife, would you? Use the work account, but keep that little tidbit under wraps," the Mayor said, tapping his nose. "Just say it's a miscellaneous expense."
Layla almost sighed in relief. "Of course, sir. Does your wife have a favourite flower?"
"I never remember things like that. Just send her something that looks pretty. Add a note if it's not an extra cost."
"Yes, Mr. Mayor," she replied, heading back to her desk to find a suitable florist.
"The Mayor's wife's favourite flowers are pink roses. She prefers red wine over white, and is allergic to shellfish, so whatever you do, don't book them a table at a seafood restaurant," Nina said with a grin.
"Oh, thank you, Nina. I'd be lost without you," Layla said, smiling up at her gratefully.
"It's all right; no one likes the repercussions of an argument between the Mayor and his wife," she muttered quietly. "That's how good people get fired."
"Right, pink roses then," Layla muttered. "Oh, I know the best florist for roses," she realised with a quick grin.
"Keep them on speed dial," Nina advised, grinning back at her.
"I've been thinking," Layla said, looking at Warren briefly.
"Hmm, about what?" he asked warily.
"Royal Pain," she replied, rolling onto her side to look at him properly. "I think I've figured out how she could have won."
"By not doing what she did?" Warren suggested with a snicker.
"Actually, she had it right. I mean, there were aspects that could have been changed, but overall, Royal Pain's plan would have worked if we hadn't stopped her."
Warren looked away from the lemon tree that was growing above him, and frowned at Layla. "Explain, hippie."
"Well, the plan was to turn everyone into babies, leave with them, have Sky High fall out of the sky, and make a villain school, right?"
"The one crucial aspect of her plan wasn't getting the Pacifier, or the Commander and Jetstream, or even the Homecoming Dance. It all rested on Sky High's anti-gravity device."
Warren didn't bother saying anything in response, and just watched as Layla continued to explain, her eyes bright and tinged with green flecks.
"Sky High itself is fairly huge, and since it's so high in the air, it would've come hurtling down to the earth at a ridiculous speed."
Honestly, hippie?! We were on that fucking thing while it was hurtling down to the earth at a ridiculous speed! he thought to himself, but still not willing to interrupt her.
"Oh, I know, don't look at me like that... Anyway, with the speed it would have picked up, Sky High smashing into Maxville's suburbian areas would've made such an impact that it would have destroyed Maxville itself. Any student's parents that survived something like that would have believed that their children died in the wreckage of Sky High. Maxville would have been destroyed, and no one would be looking for their children because they'd think them to be dead, and Royal Pain would have been able to raise everyone as villains without any trouble."
Warren thought about her theory for a moment, giving a brief nod. "I suppose that would have worked. Sky High would really have to have done a number on the city for people to not be suspicious about the lack of bodies in the ruins of the school."
"Hmm, true. Still, it's something to think about," Layla murmured, stretching and yawning widely.
Warren pulled her onto his lap, his lips hot against the crook of her neck. Layla made a sound of content, her arms wrapping around him loosely. He grinned against her skin, his tongue flicking out to taste her, one hand moving to hold her as the other slipped beneath her shirt.
"You two aren't going to do anything out here, are you?" Zach asked with a wince, coming into view from the Hive's forest path.
"Whatever do you mean?" Layla asked, tilting her head back, her hair falling between her shoulders as she grinned at him.
"Hey guys, are we still going to study?" Ethan asked, adjusting his bag strap slightly before taking Zach's hand.
"Sure, you two go on ahead to the Hive. We'll be there in a few minutes," Warren said, not looking away from Layla.
Zach and Ethan didn't need to be told twice, and hurried ahead, Zach chuckling to himself knowingly.
"Do you know what Zach was talking about, Warren?" Layla asked, a mischievous grin on her face as she looked at him again.
"Very funny, hippie," he muttered, pressing a firm kiss to her lips.
"Mmm," she murmured as they pulled away, licking her lips. "You keep doing that, and the forest will be done in a few hours."
"Huh?" Warren replied, frowning in confusion.
"Well, they're still not fully grown, and you riling me up like that will affect the trees since I'm nearby. They'll be fully grown within a few hours, and people will definitely notice an entire forest that looks fifty years old when this was nothing but a paddock a few months ago."
"So... No getting you horny while you're powered up and near the Hive?"
"Exactly," Layla said with a disappointed sigh, standing up and brushing leaves from her skirt.
"All right. I really wish you'd told me this earlier, I would've started thinking about your Great Aunt the moment we got off the bus," Warren said with a snort.
"You think of my Great Aunt?" Layla asked, wrinkling her nose.
"Who would you prefer I think about?"
"I don't know... Does it have to be a person? Can't it just be something you don't like? Y'know, water, rain, baths, that sort of thing?"
"Hippie? Shut up. Somehow you've just made me start thinking of you naked under a goddamn waterfall, and it's the most ridiculous and cliché thought that I actually feel dirty."
Layla didn't reply, and when he looked at her, Warren saw that her eyes seemed to be glazed over, and a pulse of desire came from his vine tattoo as she bit her lip. He returned the feeling, his eyes darkening as she let out a small whimper in response, and fuck it all if he didn't think that this was going to make masturbating the most interesting damn experience in the world all over again.
"Study. We have to study. That's what we have to do. Not this... Not yet," Layla murmured, licking her lips as she glanced over to him. "Definitely later though," she added with a wicked grin, and that just did not help Warren in the slightest.
"Fuck me, hippie. You go ahead too. Let me get under control before I ravish you against a damn tree," he growled.
"Oh, we'll be doing that too," Layla said with a light laugh, turning and heading to the Hive.
Warren could have sworn that she lifted her skirt to show her thighs just to torture him. He let out a groan and thought very hard about anything but being hard.
"Hey, Lay, can we talk for a minute?" Zach asked, nodding briefly at Warren.
"Sure, what is it, Zach?" she asked with a smile. She touched Warren's arm slightly to indicate for him to go ahead to the bus stop with Ethan.
Zach waited a few moments until Warren was no longer in ear-shot before he turned to Layla properly. "I wanted to ask about outfits and superhero names ... uh, well, not hero, but y'know what I mean," he said with a quick grin.
"Sure. Any reason you didn't want to bring this up in front of Warren and Ethan?" she asked curiously.
"'Cause I reckon Warren will laugh, and I'd prefer not to have Ethan see me laughed at," Zach admitted, shrugging slightly. "Where are you on the outfits and stuff? I mean, I'm sure you've got it all planned out, but I don't want to be one of those sidekicks in spandex, y'know?"
"I haven't exactly thought of the outfits, honestly. All I know is that it would have masks. Nothing gaudy or ridiculous, I promise," she added.
"Uh, why masks?" Zach asked with a confused frown.
No one bothered wearing masks unless they were Royal Pain; working in a costume that was so eighteen years ago, and trying to hide her gender to the rest of the world.
"Because I'd prefer to have my identity protected until I'm ready for the world to know me as a villain. It wouldn't really be beneficial to the big plan to have my face plastered on every news channel and media outlet across the globe," Layla pointed out.
"All right, I guess that's understandable. What about names then? If I get any say in it, then I still want to be called Zach Attack," he said, grinning broadly.
"You will get a say in it, I promise, but I can also promise you this: you will never be named Zach Attack while you're my sidekick. Or Zach anything-else-added-on either," she added before he could provide another suggestion.
"Why not?" Zach asked, looking crestfallen.
"What's the main thing that we're taught about supers and citizens, Zach?"
"Uh... That citizens don't have powers like supers do?" he ventured.
"Right, and what does that make us to citizens?"
"An unknown threat, usually," Zach said, still unsure as to why this meant he couldn't be called Zach Attack.
"Exactly. Now, let's say you're out in the citizen world with a regular job, then you and I go rob a bank. The next day, headlines read: Layla Flower and Zach Attack rob bank! Our pictures are plastered everywhere, and even with the mask, your hair can still be seen. With me so far?"
Zach sighed, nodding reluctantly. He seemed to understand where it was going, but Layla pressed on to really drive her point home.
"Right, so you go into work, citizens start to think and talk to each other. They realise that your name is Zach and you have blonde hair, just like the bank robber. They might disregard it for a while, because surely you're not the only blonde Zach in Maxville, but they get suspicious and start snooping around in your things - they are power-less citizens after all, and need to exert their power in any way, shape, and form they possibly can - and they find something damning. Or maybe one of them just doesn't like you for whatever reason and decides you fit the bill, and plants something on you. You'd be in Maxville Penitentiary before the week's out... Now, tell me honestly: do you still really want to be called Zach Attack?"
"No, I suppose not. I guess super alter egos are called that for a reason," he muttered sourly.
"Good decision. Now, don't worry, I promise not to call you something ridiculous like Firefly," Layla promised, grinning. "You'll definitely have a say in your name, as well as your own outfit. In fact, why don't you look into designing the outfits for both of us?"
"Seriously? You're letting me, Mr. No-Fashion-Sense, design our outfits?"
"I said design, not colour," Layla said, laughing. "Besides, I think it'd be good for both of us. I'll need to start listening to your ideas if we're going to do this together."
Zach stopped and hugged her tightly. "I won't let you down!"
"I never thought you would," she said, patting his back gently.
"Eth, you got a notepad I can borrow?" Zach called. "Oh, and I know all about the hazards of capes, so you don't have to worry about wind turbines," he said over his shoulder to Layla with a broad smile.
Layla nodded and smiled, though she had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
Magenta left class crying.
Ethan's text message distracted Layla from her Maths for Supers class, and she quickly put her hand up to excuse herself. She was allowed to leave with the provision that she didn't return with her phone, and Layla just nodded quickly, a faint tinge of red on her cheeks as she left the classroom. There was only one bathroom near the Sidekick classrooms, so it wasn't difficult to find Magenta, and Layla knocked on the cubicle door gently.
"What?" Magenta snapped, her voice rough to try and hide the fact that she was mortified at being caught crying.
"Are you all right, Magenta?" Layla asked.
Magenta opened the door slowly, looking an absolute mess with her mascara running down her cheeks and tears filling her eyes again.
"What do you care?" Magenta muttered sourly, stepping forward to move past Layla.
Putting her arm out, Layla stopped Magenta from leaving the cubicle and gave her a sweet smile. "Of course I care, Magenta. You were my best friend once; do you really think I'd forget about that just because you and Will are dating?"
Magenta looked at her in disbelief, but must have seen something in Layla's expression because she burst into tears again.
"That's right, let it all out. Now, why don't we get you cleaned up and we'll find somewhere to talk?" Layla suggested.
"But... What about your class?" Magenta asked, sniffing miserably.
"It's just math; I'll catch up," she replied with a shrug.
Magenta nodded gratefully and let Layla lead her over to the basin to clean herself up.
"What's all this about you skipping class for Magenta?" Warren asked when the Sky High bus was up in the air and they couldn't be overheard.
"I'm giving Magenta what she needs in a very difficult time: a friend."
"To what end, hippie? You forget that she helped Will cheat on you?"
"Of course not. I have a very specific plan of revenge for Magenta's betrayal."
"Mmm, why don't you share with the rest of the class?" Warren asked, his mouth hot against her ear.
"Oh, it's nothing much; I just plan on whittling away at her emotions until she's utterly useless as Will's sidekick."
"You think he'll choose her as a sidekick?"
"Will's a very simple and stupid creature; he wouldn't want to be parted from Magenta if he could help it, so yes, there is a very real chance that he'll ask her to be his sidekick."
"Hmm, he's stupid and naive enough to think it's a good idea. I know better; you'd never be happy being my sidekick. Not when we can work better together, side by side," Warren said, and she could feel his lips curving into a grin against her skin.
She turned to kiss him properly, but all too soon the bus landed with a heavy thump, jarring them apart. Layla muttered under her breath, Warren chuckling beside her as he put his arm around her shoulders. The Mayor's office building came into view, and Layla sighed heavily, not particularly wanting to go to work tonight. Not if meant that she had to leave Warren's side in the next three minutes.
"Don't worry about it, hippie. We'll go to the Hive tonight, and then we'll be able to continue what we started," Warren said softly.
Layla nodded reluctantly, but even she couldn't tell if he meant making out or continuing their conversation about Magenta and Will. She smiled, pressed a quick kiss to Warren's lips and hurried down to the front of the bus as they pulled up to the side of the road. Layla couldn't help but grin on feeling that her lips were still tingling with heat as she stepped onto the sidewalk.
"I'm heading off for the evening, Layla. Why don't you leave early tonight, if you don't have anything urgent?" the Mayor offered with a generous smile as he locked his office door on the way out.
"That's very kind of you, sir. I'll just finish replying to these emails, and I might take you up on your offer," Layla said, smiling briefly. "You have a good night with your wife at the restaurant," she called as he headed over to the elevator with a farewell over his shoulder.
"Thanks, you too," he called, obviously not listening to her past 'have a good night'.
Layla shook her head and returned her attention to the computer. She did have quite a few emails to reply to, as well as a small stack of envelopes in her in-tray to get through. She glanced over at the envelopes, almost dismissing them immediately, but saw a small bee sticker on one. Layla pulled it out from underneath the pile quickly, grinning on seeing the bees surrounding a small beehive. The address on the envelope was hand-written, and there was no return address; she could feel a weight to it, but the envelope felt squishy as well.
The emails could wait, Layla decided, opening the envelope quickly. It was padded, which explained the squishiness, and a key fell out of the packaging into her palm. A small note fluttered down onto Layla's lap and she gripped the key tightly as she used her free hand to open the note.
Wait until 7:40pm. You have three minutes.
It wasn't signed, and there was nothing else to the note. Layla looked back at her computer screen and saw that it was 7pm. Forty minutes to go. Well, she did have some emails to reply to.
Layla looked at the clock again when she'd finished, and was dismayed to discover that what had felt like twenty minutes was actually barely fifteen. These were going to be the longest thirty minutes of her life.
Thirty minutes later, Layla had filed all of the paperwork for The Monster, had ensured that the stack of paperwork to be signed was clipped together for the Mayor to deal with in the morning, and had even read the absolutely mind-numbingly boring minutes of the Council's last meeting. 7:33pm ticked over, and Layla barely resisted the urge to go into the Mayor's office, screw the next seven minutes. As she was about to stand up and get the spare key from Nina's desk (the Mayor didn't know about the key; apparently he still thought that security opened his office door whenever he left his key at home), her phone rang loudly and made her jump in fright.
"Hello, this is Layla," she said, trying not to sound too freaked our over the phone.
"Ah, good, you're still there. Glad I rang you then... I've left my wallet in my jacket pocket, and my jacket's hanging up behind the door. Get security to open my office door and bring my jacket down, would you? I can't be bothered coming back in again."
"Of course, sir. I'll let Dave know right away," Layla said, hanging up to call down to the foyer.
"Hi Layla; is everything all right?"
"The Mayor's left his jacket upstairs and would like you to take it out to the parking lot for him, please. I'd offer to do it myself, but I can't open his office."
"I can't leave the building; what if something happens?"
"Nothing will happen, Dave. I'm the only one in here besides you; even Maria's gone home. I won't even move from my desk until you've come back in," Layla promised.
Dave sighed heavily on the other end of the phone. "All right, fine. But I'll be coming straight back up there to the Mayor's office after I get back in the building, understood?"
"Of course, thank you."
Dave hung up and, keeping his eyes on his security screens the best he could, he headed over to the elevators. He couldn't help but smile at Layla as he went to the Mayor's office and produced a large ring of keys. It took him a minute and three tries to find the proper key, but he had it eventually, and then Dave was back at the elevators seconds later.
"Now, remember: no moving from your desk! Press the panic button if something happens!" Dave called as the doors closed.
"Huh. I didn't know I had a panic button," Layla murmured to herself, feeling under the edge of her desk carefully.
She found the button and was sorely tempted to press it, but then she noticed the time. It was 7:40pm exactly, and she had three minutes. Layla set her watch so she wouldn't go over time, and hurried to start. She was inside the Mayor's office in under thirty seconds, and was opening the Beast five seconds later. The first drawer was fairly disappointing, with Council meetings and agendas being filed haphazardly in there - and a bottle of Scotch hidden behind the files carefully. A minute and a half.
The second drawer was again, full of files, but these looked like they hadn't been touched in years. This as further proved by the large cloud of dust that came out as Layla opened the drawer. She shut it again and hurried to clean her face of any traces of dust. A little under a minute left.
The third drawer opened smoothly, but there were no files, just a long black box sitting in the middle of the drawer. Layla frowned and reached in to grab the box. As she moved her hand inside, she noticed a small red glow coming from the back of the drawer and adjusted herself to look closer. It was so dark that she hadn't noticed it at first, but now Layla realised that this drawer was smaller than the top two. The back panel was actually false, and as she went to touch it, Layla heard her watch beep. Her three minutes were up.
Frustrated and curious beyond belief, Layla made herself close the drawer without doing anything, and hurried back to her desk, making sure to pocket the key for the Beast, and return the office key to Nina's desk as well.
Dave sat down at his security screens a few seconds later, and called up to Layla's desk, deciding not to go up there since he'd already locked the office door on the way out.
"Nothing happened, Dave. Am I allowed to move now?" Layla asked, grinning over to the camera.
"Sure thing; the Mayor said you're to take the rest of the night off, and that's an order," Dave said with a chuckle.
"Sir, yes, sir," Layla said, thanking him and hanging up. She just hoped he wouldn't get suspicious and look at the camera's backlog.
Warren was silent as they came to the Hive's forest, and kept his hand against the small of Layla's back as he guided her down the path. She was quiet as well, her cheeks burning. Layla had very recently discovered that Warren touching the small of her back was a hell of a turn on, especially when his hand was almost hot enough to burn through her clothes. (He didn't dare let himself lose control and burn her clothes again though; Layla had thrown her shirt out to avoid being punished by Greta, and he doubted the old bag would buy anything new for Layla without a damn good reason.)
"We're inside now; will you tell me what's going on?" Layla asked when the Hive door closed behind them.
""Not yet, hippie. We're not far enough away yet."
"Away from what?"
Warren didn't answer and simply headed to the library where the trap door was. Layla followed him, curious enough to not be angry just yet.
"All right, this should be far enough. Can you feel them?" Warren asked when they finally stopped walking almost ten minutes later.
"Feel what?" Layla asked irritably.
"The trees. We should be as far away from the forest as possible, right?"
Layla took a moment to release her power and feel for her trees. Their roots were in the ground, but they were still growing and hadn't reached this part of the Hive yet.
"So it's safe to kiss you then?" Warren asked, grinning at her broadly.
Layla answered him by drawing him into a heated kiss, his vine tattoo spinning wildly as he felt thorns digging into his skin. Phantom flames flickered along her wrist in return, and Warren pressed her up against the closest wall to continue kissing her. This time they weren't interrupted.
End of the thirty-second chapter.
Thanks for reading; I hope you liked it!