All characters are mine and mine alone. If they look like anybody you know or think you know, it's sheer coincidence. This story does contain some violence and sexual content. If you don't like either of those, please try your call again.
Synopsis: Brice must survive the most dangerous adventure ever: Christmas.
My greatest thanks to Rosa, who kindly edited this adventure and who has promised to keep on me until I complete all of Brice's adventures. Once again, thanks
Questions? Comments? Rude remarks? email@example.com.
Brice Johnson was an ordinary person bored out of her ordinary mind. As she fought against yawning, Brice wondered why she had agreed to go shopping with Noel in the first place. She then remembered she hadn't agreed to go shopping. Brice had thought they were going to attend a soccer game.
While shopping with a friend is considered very normal, people would not consider what Brice and Noel were doing as normal. They were currently browsing a jewelry store in Paris. While this would seem perfectly fine to people who lived or were vacationing in France, it really wasn't if one knew all the facts about Brice and Noel's day. They had been to 27 international jewelry stores around the world that day. Noel insisted on only going to the best so they had been to Zale's, Tiffany's, Boucheron's, Dior's, Bvlgari's, De Beers', Cartier's, Damiani's, and Brice couldn't even remember how to spell the others.
Fighting another yawn, Brice wished Noel would just pick a ring already. They had seen hundreds of beautiful rings, but Noel had rejected every single one of them. Brice had no idea that picking out an engagement ring would be so hard.
When Noel had picked up Brice that morning, Brice had been under the impression that they were going to a soccer game. Brice had barely closed the passenger door when Noel blurted out, “I'm going to ask Alice to marry me.”
Brice, who had been reaching for her seat belt, paused in mid-action. She blinked once, twice. Once her brain had comprehended what Noel had said, Brice turned around and punched Noel in the arm with a large smile on her face, “Well, it's about time you made an honest woman out of her, you idiot.”
Sheepishly, Noel grinned, “Yeah. So I want to ask her around Christmas, and I'm going to need a ring. You're coming along to help me pick one out.”
Brice had been okay with the sudden change in plans, but after watching Noel reject over 600 stunning rings, she was on her last thread of patience.
“Perhaps you're jealous,” A voice in her head commented.
Brice glared down at the jewelry case she was looking at. She thought furiously, “I am not jealous! I'm happy for Noel and Alice. We've just looked at so many damn rings that…”
“You're jealous,” the voice repeated confidently, “You're jealous because Alice and Noel have been dating only four months longer than you and Amelia, and Noel's already proposing.”
Brice glared even harder at the jewelry case when she recognized it as the voice of her inner psychiatrist. Her mental psychiatrist continued without prompting, “Brice, it's okay that Amelia and yourself have yet to make love. You've only been dating four months. That's an acceptable period of time. A relationship is built off of…”
“Have you ever even seen a real shrink?” Noel snapped suddenly.
Brice blinked, as did the man helping them from behind the jewelry case. Normally Brice would be more surprised at someone being able to read her mind, but not when it came to Noel. Noel was a superhero who had inherited powers that dwelt around ice, but had learned to be telepathic. Brice crossed her arms and said while tapping her foot, “I thought we talked about this, Noel.”
When Brice said talk, Brice meant she had mentioned to Alice that having Noel read her mind all the time was extremely annoying, and Alice had had a firm talk with her girlfriend. Noel had then cut back drastically on her irritating habit. Normally, Brice could tell when Noel was prying into her thoughts, but she had been so focused on her inner shrink that she hadn't noticed the crowded sensation inside her head.
Noel shrugged, examining another ring, “Well? Have you?”
Brice sighed, knowing she wasn't going to win, “Yes. It's mandatory for all barons to undergo psychiatric counseling.”
Surprised, Noel dropped the ring she had been holding onto the glass case. Ignoring the gasp of indignation about the ring's treatment from the jeweler, Noel concentrated on Brice, “Mandatory? For how long?”
Unnerved by the sudden emotion Noel was showing, Brice turned around to examine another case. She said, staring at some of the largest diamonds she had ever seen, “Until the baron is capable of going out into society without any residual feelings of anger or resentment towards the community.”
When Brice said 'the community', she meant the superhero community. Almost everyone Brice knew had some type of superpower. All of Brice's family were superheroes with the exception of Brice. Brice was a baron, someone who should have superpowers but was barren.
“And how long was 'mandatory' for you?” Noel pressed on.
Brice was caught so off guard she actually answered, “Uh, it…it started when I was 12 and it didn't end until I was 23.”
“11 years?” Noel whispered, “They made you go to a shrink 11 years? That's fucking torture…”
“So where are you getting married?” Brice asked quickly, to change the subject, “Spain?”
Noel looked uncertain. She said, scratching her head, “Umm, I haven't thought of that. Where ever Alice wants, I guess.”
Superheroes were allowed to marry whoever they wanted, as long as they were of legal age. As a registered baron, Brice was allowed the same right, but she felt it was unfair to the rest of the world.
Noel pondered, “I wonder if she'll want to go down to the local courthouse or have a big wedding.”
Brice gave Noel a look of disbelief. She said slowly, “Noel, you can't get married in the local courthouse. You have to do it through the government.”
“And why not?” Noel demanded to know.
“Cause same-sex marriage is illegal in your state,” Brice slowly replied.
“What?” Noel gasped, “It's illegal? Since when?”
Brice felt like popping Noel on the back of the head, “Noel, I know you don't get out much but seriously! Same-sex marriage is illegal in the majority of the states!”
“That's barbaric! Outrageous! We have to fix that right now,” Noel ranted. She pulled out her blackberry and started typing a text message. She continued as she furiously pressed on the keys, “This is just ludicrous. It will be fixed in a month.”
Brice blinked once, then twice, “Fixed?”
“Yes. Same sex marriage will be legalized within the month, or there will be hell to pay,” Noel said, stowing away her blackberry. Brice didn't know whether to punch Noel or kiss her.
“Now back to the matter at hand,” Noel said, turning back. Brice internally groaned, but since the beautiful superhero was helping to legalize same-sex marriage, she decided she could put up with shopping a little while longer.
Fifty rings later, Noel cried out, “None of these rings says Alice!”
“Oh my fucking God, Noel!” Brice shouted, finally losing her calm. She had been leaning wearily on the counter by a display case of rings she would never be able to afford. She straightened and plucked a random ring from the case beside her. Brice growled, thrusting the ring at Noel, “Here!”
“You just expect me to take that and…”
Noel trailed off as her eyes widened. She exclaimed, “Brice! That's it! That's the ring!”
Brice almost had her fingers ripped off when Noel snatched the ring from her. She and the jeweler were stunned as Noel stared at the ring as if it was the Holy Grail.
“This is the one, Brice! This is perfect for Alice! She can't say no to this ring!”
Brice nodded, moving to look at the ring she had chosen. It was beautiful but she couldn't see anything special about it other than the fact it held a diamond that cost more then her house. Brice finally stopped trying to figure out why Noel liked it. She said, stirring Noel to the jeweler, “Now let the nice man size the ring so we can get the hell out of here.”
Noel reluctantly let the jeweler have the ring. They had a small conversation in French that Brice didn't understand and as the man went into a back room, she asked what they had said.
“Oh, he asked what size I wanted it. She wears a seven and a half,” Noel stated proudly, “You know, it took two double agents to get that piece of information.”
Brice thought that was overkill, but she wasn't going to protest Noel's methods. After a few minutes the man returned with the ring in an expensive-looking velvet box. After Noel paid for it with her superhero credit card, they walked back to Noel's car. The Frenchman happily waved the exasperating, but rich, white-haired customer and her mousy, brown-haired friend away.
Brice had to guide Noel to the car since she wouldn't take her eyes off the ring. Brice grumbled as she fished the keys out of Noel's pocket, “It's not going to wander off, Noel.”
“It's perfect,” Noel whispered in awe, “She can't say no to me with this ring.”
Brice rolled her eyes and loaded Noel into her car. She had to drive them out of the city before she could hit the invisibility switch on the car. She then flew them back to the United States.
On the fly back Brice asked, “So what are you getting your mother for Christmas?”
Brice hadn't asked out of curiosity. She was actually looking for ideas of what to get her mother. It was hard to shop for a superhero.
“Umm, Alice recommended something.”
Brice gaped at her, “That's cheating!”
“No it's not,” Noel defended, “It's technically a gift from both of us.”
“I'm sure,” Brice sarcastically replied, “So what did you get her?”
“Nope. Not telling. You're not stealing my present idea,” Noel said firmly, looking up from the ring to glare at Brice. Brice merely grunted. There was no use arguing with Noel. However, Brice wasn't one who gave up easily. She would go directly to the source later.
“What are you getting Amelia for Christmas?” Noel suddenly inquired.
Brice happily grinned, “Tickets to see Wicked on Broadway. Best seats in the house. She's never been and she mentioned she loved the book and has the songs on her Ipod.”
“Nice,” Noel approved, “I hear it has great lesbian subtext. Should make for a romantic evening. Maybe you'll finally get laid.”
“Maybe,” Brice muttered.
Noel felt a wave of panic wash over her. Brice looked upset and Noel knew as Brice's best friend she was supposed to make Brice feel better. She looked around the car as if there was something to cheer Brice up on the floorboard. She found nothing. Noel could hear Alice's voice in her head urging her to talk to Brice. Shifting uncomfortably in her seat, Noel hedged, “Umm, getting laid isn't everything.”
“Is there something wrong with me?” Brice cried out, “Am I that unattractive? Does she just think of me as a friend?”
Noel looked like a deer caught in headlights. Brice snapped her mouth shut so she wouldn't say anything else. She was viciously scolding herself for saying what she had.
“I'm sure she's into you. It seemed that way when we went on that double date the other day. Maybe…maybe she's waiting because she wants it to be special,” Noel finally offered.
“Yeah. I mean not every couple has sex in the first six months.”
“Oh yeah?” Brice asked in disbelief, “And just when did you and Alice have sex?”
“Two days after we met.”
“My point has been proven.”
Noel was quiet a moment and then quietly said, “The second time we had sex was four months after that.”
The car screeched as Brice slammed on the brakes. Noel threw her arms out to brace herself against the dashboard, “What the fuck Brice? I just replaced these brakes last week! I don't want new ones! And you almost made me drop the ring!”
Brice ignored Noel and asked, stunned, “You had sex two days after you met Alice and then you waited four months? Why?”
Brice watched incredulously as a blush started rising on Noel's face. Noel said, in an obvious lie, “I was away on a mission.”
Brice merely continued to stare at Noel. Noel blushed harder. She then snapped, “Fine. You want to know? The first time was so bad I was afraid to do it again, and I was sure she would never want to do it again anyway.”
Brice tilted her head in confusion, much like her dog would, “Bad?”
“Yeah, the first time was horrible,” Noel confessed, “I was horrible.”
“Is there an echo in here?” Noel snapped, “Yes, horrible. Yes, bad. I didn't know what the hell I was doing. All fumbling. Couldn't figure out what she liked.”
“The first time with someone is always awkward,” Brice said, “With my second girlfriend, I stubbed my toe on her bed frame. Let's just say it took me a while to get back in the mood.”
“Yeah, well, at least you didn't break her nose,” Noel muttered, not meaning for Brice to hear, but hear Brice did.
“You broke her nose!”
It was an interesting contrast; a bright red face against white hair. Brice was surprised to see even Noel's ears turn red.
“Don't you dare laugh,” the red-faced superhero ordered.
Brice could feel the laughter bubbling in her stomach and her throat tingled in the effort to hold it back. Feeling her lips start to lift upwards at the corners, Brice quickly covered her mouth with her hand.
Brice fervently shook her head in denial. Noel grumbled, “See if I confide in you again.”
Finally trusting her voice, Brice said, “Noel, I can't lie. I really want to laugh, but I have nothing but the utmost sympathy for you right now.”
Noel made a non-committal noise.
“Well Noel, embarrassing as it is, it didn't turn out bad. You just found the perfect ring to ask an incredible woman to marry you.”
Noel lifted up the ring and a tiny smile appeared on her face, “It is perfect.”
Brice smiled at her. If someone had told Brice six months ago that Noel would become her best friend, she'd have laughed at them. But here they were, sharing humiliating parts of their lives to make the other feel better. If that wasn't friendship, Brice didn't know what was.
Brice flew back to her house, which lay on top of a mountain in Tennessee. To anyone passing overhead, it would look like any other mountain top surrounded by other mountains. They wouldn't see the large two-story house or the giant yellow school bus parked beside it thanks to a camouflage shield her grandmother Helen had given to her as a house-warming present.
Brice waved to Noel as the superhero flew off even though Noel wasn't paying attention. Brice had set the automatic pilot for Noel's house before getting out of the vehicle. She was sure Noel would be home before she even realized Brice was no longer driving.
As Brice walked into her house, she couldn't help but notice the subtle changes in her home that had happened in the past few weeks. There was winter gear hanging on the coat rack by the door that wasn't hers. Her hyperactive puppy and self-obsessed kitten no longer ran to the door to greet her. They were currently lying on the couches with the biggest changes in her house, her new housemates Greer and John Watson.
Monty, her black Labrador, had his head resting on John's lap, his tail wagging a mile a minute as John scratched behind his ears. Young John was watching SpongeBob while his sister read a book with Python, her white kitten, sitting on her lap.
“Hi Brice,” John brightly greeted, though his eyes never left the screen, “How was the game?”
“Longgggg,” Brice said wearily.
“So it went into overtime?”
“God, yes,” Brice said, looking at her watch, “I thought it would never end.”
“So who won?” asked Greer, who stopped reading to give Brice her full attention.
Brice said as she remembered the French salesman weeping in happiness when they left the store, “France.”
“And the score?”
Brice gave Greer a curious look. The sudden interest in conversation confused her. Ever since Greer had discovered Brice was dating a nice doctor named Amelia, Greer had avoided engaging in conversation with Brice. The bus driver didn't know why that piece of information had bothered Greer so much. She could only hope the teenager wasn't homophobic.
“The score?” Brice repeated. She thought about how much the ring had rung up for, “Seemed like it went into the millions.”
“Hmm,” The blonde teenager replied before going back to her book. Brice had the feeling Greer didn't believe her.
A loud beep alerted her that she had a text. Brice was glad she had added unlimited texting to her phone plan. She had never even tried it six months ago but between Noel, Amelia, and her Ma, who had also discovered it within the last six months, she ended up sending a lot of messages. Brice grinned when she saw it was from Amelia and grinned even harder at the message, “Getting off work early. You, me, dinner?”
She texted back her agreement as she walked up to her room. She didn't notice the dark look Greer gave her.
It took several more texts to figure out where they were going to eat. They finally settled on the Thai place in China. There were lots restaurants around the world that catered to those in the superhero field. People who worked in the restaurants never blinked when people of every race and nationality came in to eat. These restaurants weren't hard to find; there were over 7000 of them. One sidekick had made it his life mission to go to all the restaurants and try everything on the menu. He then wrote a mildly popular book about his experiences and what meals he would recommend called A Hero's Gotta Eat.
Brice had some time before her date, so she went downstairs to do her laundry. As she sorted through her whites and colors, she briefly thought of getting an automatic sorter and folder like her mother had. She decided against it since chores kept her grounded to real life. Superheroes could have the luxury of forgetting how real people lived, but she couldn't. She wasn't a superhero.
Since Greer and John had moved in, taking laundry out of the dryer had become interesting to say the least. Greer washed both her and John's and folded her clothes own while John folded his. It was nothing to mix up a t-shirt, but it was embarrassing for Brice and Greer when underwear got mixed up.
When Greer tossed a pair of boxers at her when they were both doing clothes, Brice turned red when she saw they were her Scooby Doo boxers.
“Scooby is a classic,” Brice tried to defend. It did nothing to stop the amused smirk on Greer's face. Brice had all kinds of underwear but preferred boxers because they were comfortable to sleep in.
The next incident caused them both to go red. Brice pulled out a nice black thong and a look of confusion crossed her face. She was wondering when she had bought and worn it when the thong was snatched out of her hand. Greer's bright red cheeks caused Brice to blush, and she suddenly became very interested in sorting her laundry. When the mental image of Greer wearing the thong popped into Brice's head, the bus driver wanted to slap herself. She muttered, “I'm going to Hell.”
Luckily for Brice, there was no mixed up laundry today. As she turned on the washing machine, Greer walked into the kitchen. Brice watched as Greer opened the cabinet with the glasses and pour herself some orange juice. Brice was left mildly impressed when she downed the glass in one long gulp.
“You'll do well in college,” Brice remarked, “They'll love you at keg-parties.”
Greer rolled her eyes before putting the glass in the dishwasher.
“I'm going out tonight. I don't know when I'll be back in,” Brice said.
“Okay,” Greer replied, “Whatever.”
Brice frowned as the teenager practically stormed out of the kitchen. She was going to have to talk to her.
Her phone ringing startled Brice out of her train of thought and she pulled it out of her pocket. She hoped it wasn't Amelia calling to cancel their date. Brice winced when she saw it was her mother.
While Christmas was no where near as horrible an event as Thanksgiving for the Johnson household, it was still a little hectic. This year was going to be especially hectic since Helen, her father's mother, would be spending Christmas day with them. Helen alternated every year between her three children.
“Hi Ma,” Brice reluctantly answered.
“So I see you can pick up your phone?” Marge said. Not waiting for her daughter to reply, “We're going to need to go shopping soon for food supplies, and I still haven't picked your father out anything. What have you gotten him?”
“Well…” Brice started. Her mother interrupted, “Please tell me you didn't get him another one of those useless gadgets you insist on getting him.”
“I got him some cufflinks,” Brice said, neglecting to mention the cufflinks were shaped like the Star Trek Enterprise.
“Ah, very nice dear,” Marge said, sounding relieved, “Your brother wants that new PlayStation 9 they're coming out with along with Halo VIII and Gran Theft Auto: Outer-space. What he really wanted was a car, but not until he graduates, I told him.”
“Greer is going to give John a PS9 and I'm going to buy him Final Fantasy-XX. How about I buy Michael Halo VIII?”
“That sounds fine to me,” Marge said, “Are Greer and John doing anything for Christmas? I mean, are they spending it with their mother?”
“They're just going to visit her, I think. But I know where you're heading with this, Ma and as much as I would love to have Greer and John join us for Christmas dinner, I don't want them to feel uncomfortable.”
“And why would they feel uncomfortable?” Marge demanded to know. Brice couldn't figure out a tactful answer to that. Marge continued in Brice's silence, “John and Greer are joining us for Christmas. End of discussion. Now when can you meet me to go shopping?”
Brice knew it was pointless to argue with her mother. She merely stated a time when they could go shopping together and bid her mother goodbye. She glanced down at her watch to see how long she had before she had to leave to meet Amelia. She decided to go ahead and leave.
Bidding Greer and John goodbye, she went out to her school bus. After going through a series of tests and scans, she was allowed entrance to her bus. Pushing several buttons, Brice pulled up a few radars. One was a weather map and the others were aircraft trackers. Satisfied with what she saw, she took off in the air. The sun was just setting on the mountains and it was a beautiful sight. She drove straight into it until the sun was no longer setting but overhead.
It was 6:00am when she arrived in Thailand. She held on as her bus converted to appear as a regular Thailand school bus. Brice drove to the restaurant, which had a nice parking lot, unlike most places in Asia. She parked in a spot reserved just for buses and went inside, locking up the bus before she went.
She went ahead and got a table for two. She was glancing over the menu, which could be changed into any language with the twirl of a wheel located at its edge. She had to spin through a dozen African languages before she landed on English. Then Amelia Delgado walked in.
Brice stood to greet her girlfriend with a kiss. She smiled as Amelia nipped her bottom lip before pulling away. They made pleasant small talk as they ordered and waited for their drinks. Since this wasn't a normal restaurant in Thailand, the waiter never blinked at having a woman of Hispanic descent join the white American sitting at his table. He merely brought them their drinks.
They told each other about their day. Amelia got a good laugh from her adventure with Noel and the ring. Amelia then intrigued Brice with the people she saw that day.
“You know,” Amelia commented as their food arrived, “Not many women I've dated have been truly interested in my job. They were just pleased to have snagged a doctor.”
“Oh that's the only reason I'm dating you too,” Brice said with a serious face, “I just happen to like medical dramas as well.”
“Yes, I recall that. You like Grey's Anatomy,” Amelia replied with a smirk.
“Shh,” Brice warned, looking around, “You can't let people know that.”
Amelia chuckled. Brice defended, “It's a good show. You got Callie and Arizona, who are an amazing couple, plus Meredith and Cristina are soul mates.”
“I'm not going to tease you about it,” Amelia smiled, “Much.”
“Hey, this from the woman who likes SpongeBob.”
“Spongebob is a good show,” Amelia stated.
“For ten year olds like John,” Brice teased.
Amelia grinned, “You like Spongebob. You just don't want to admit it.”
“So how are your wards?” The doctor then asked.
Amelia hadn't known how to react when she learned her girlfriend had taken in two children while their mother recovered from a mental breakdown. She couldn't be prouder of the way Brice handled the situation and she was touched at how deeply the bus driver cared for the Watson children. On the other hand, she didn't think it was Brice's responsibility to take them in and care for them. She also wasn't fond of Brice's house suddenly being off limits. They used to sit on Brice's couch and talk for hours into the night before she had to go home. Now the couch was occupied by a nice boy and a broody teenager with a mean glare. Still, she respected Brice's decision.
“They're fine,” Brice answered between mouthfuls, “John's pretty excited about Christmas. He might even talk me into putting up decorations this year. As for Greer… she's Greer.”
“How old is she again?”
“She just turned nineteen.”
“Hmm,” Amelia replied.
Brice arched an eyebrow at her, “What?”
“What what?” Amelia asked.
“Why did you 'hmm'?”
“It was just a noncommittal noise. Nineteen is an interesting age. You're almost twenty, but still in those teenage years. I had just started college and what a wake up call that was. My world was changing.”
Brice thought back to when she had been nineteen, “My world was changing too. I didn't know what life had planned for me. I spent that first year out of high school just trying to figure out what I was going to be. There were some days I didn't get out of bed except to eat.”
“I can't imagine your mother being thrilled about that,” Amelia commented, “From what you told me about her that is.”
Brice laughed, “No, she wasn't. I was sure there were days she wanted to throw my bed out the window with me still in it. But my Dad convinced her to let me be. Now look at me. I'm a respectable bus driver.”
“A sexy bus driver,” Amelia corrected, giving Brice a look that made her tingle.
The doctor then asked, “After dinner do you want to go watch a movie back at my place?”
“Yes,” Brice replied immediately, trying not to seem too excited. While they hadn't had sex yet, watching a movie back at Amelia's place always led to an extremely pleasant and long make-out session. This time was no different. The movie had barely been playing ten minutes before their sole concentration was on each other's lips.
When Brice's hand slipped under Amelia's shirt, she was met with no resistance. In fact, Amelia put her hand under Brice's shirt and raked her nails across Brice's lower back. This caused Brice to shiver and Amelia to smile into their kiss. When the doctor repeated the action, Brice moved her hand upward. It was Brice's turn to smile into their kiss as Amelia let out a small moan and arched her back to set her breast more firmly into Brice's palm. The bus driver used her thumb to rub across the prominence of the other woman's nipple.
In the next few moments Brice's own shirt had been discarded and Brice had somehow undone Amelia's bra, though she didn't quite remember how. She was easing Amelia back down on the couch when Amelia suddenly pulled away. She softly gasped, “Wait, wait.”
Brice couldn't help it. She turned her face into the back of the couch and let out a groan of frustration.
“I know,” Amelia said, feeling contrite, “I keep starting and stopping.”
“Is it me?” Brice asked, leaning backwards. She started to blush because she hadn't meant to say it like that.
Amelia looked shocked, “Brice! Of course not. Babe, I knew how you looked naked from the first time I met you. Well, I also knew how your bone structure and molecular level looked, but that's not the point. The point is I've wanted you from the start. I'm a very sexual woman and I very much want you.”
“So why do we keep waiting?”
Amelia lifted a hand to stroke Brice's cheek, “Because you're special. Because you're the type of woman who I bring home to meet my family, which is something I don't take lightly.”
“Oh,” Brice replied since she had no other reply, “Oh.”
Amelia smiled and gave Brice a quick kiss, “Yes, oh. So I'd like to wait a little longer. It's not that I don't want you and it's not that you aren't desirable. I just want it to be very special because you're very special.”
Brice felt very warm inside. The warm feeling was almost better than if they had had sex. She laughed, “Well, that's the nicest way someone has ever told me no before.”
Amelia chuckled as she leaned down to retrieve Brice's shirt and handed it to her. Brice shook her head, “I don't know what good this will do. It's very unfair, since you've seen me naked with those fabulous super powered eyes of yours.”
Amelia's super powered brown eyes twinkled as she replied, “Would you like to see a quick glance of me naked?”
The thought caused Brice's arousal levels to spike and she gasped, “Yes. I mean no. God, woman. You're going to kill me.”
“I'll behave,” Amelia promised. She added with an evil grin, “Most of the time.”
The couple ended the evening by watching the rest of the movie. They didn't understand the ending at all, but that was from making out for the first hour of it. Even though they didn't have sex, and probably wouldn't for some time, Brice left Amelia's with a large smile on her face. Her girlfriend thought she was the type to bring home and meet the family.
As Brice drove home, she called Alice's cell phone. Luck was with her; Alice said Noel was in the shower so Brice could talk without fear of being discovered. She had barely spoken about looking for a Christmas present for her mother when Alice interrupted, “I know just what she would like; a trip to one of the best spa hotels in the world. It's not very well known but the service is incredible.”
Brice did mental calculations in her head. It sounded very pricy. As if Alice could read her mind, she said, “Here, call this number and tell them I gave you the number. You'll get a good deal. Your mother will love this, Brice. I know it.”
She thanked Alice profusely and ended the call. The bus driver had no idea that Alice had a mischievous grin the entire time they talked.
The days before Christmas just seemed to fly by. John managed to talk Brice into setting up Christmas decorations, something she had never done in her house before. Brice found it was actually fun despite the huge mess Monty and Python made when they got into the tinsel.
“Why have you never put up decorations before?” Greer asked as she helped Brice put lights around the tree. John had taken Monty and Python to keep them from disrupting Greer and Brice.
“Well, it was always just me and the pets. I never really saw the point of putting anything up since I just spend Christmas with the family. Dad goes all out for Christmas. You can see the house from space at night. The entire superhero neighborhood competes to see who has the best lights. Dad's won three years in a row. It's actually kind of funny to watch him.”
“Because my Dad is the most laid-back man on the planet. But when it comes to this, all he cares about is winning. Even Ma doesn't get in his way during this competition,” Brice replied with a grin.
Greer couldn't imagine Mark Johnson being the type of man who only cared about winning a Christmas light competition, but she supposed everyone had their quirks.
“There,” Brice said as she finished wrapping the string of lights, “Time to see if they work.”
Greer leaned down and plugged in the lights. The multicolored lights flickered on and shined brightly against the new ornaments. The bus driver was really glad John had convinced her to get a real tree and not a plastic one. The room was filled with the smell of a Douglas fir tree.
“Looks pretty good if I do say so myself,” Brice commented, “Just needs an ornament at the top. Did we buy a star in town?”
“Well…umm,” The teenager mumbled. Brice turned to look at Greer, whose cheeks were a little pink.
Brice asked, “What?”
“Well, when we went to hide John's presents at our house, I went through our Christmas decorations. You see, we have this angel that's been in the family for years and I just wanted to have it near me and…,” Greer stopped talking and blushed a little harder, “It's silly.”
“No,” Brice replied, feeling her heart warm for Greer, “It's not. Would you mind if we honored this tree by letting it hold your angel?”
Greer smiled and went up to her room. She came down with a box which she opened. Brice had to smile at the beautiful angel and motioned for Greer to put it on top of the tree. Greer lifted it gently with her telekinetic powers and placed it there. Brice smiled, “Perfect.”
Both women stared at the tree in content for several moments. They then started to clean up empty ornament boxes and a few pieces of tinsel from the pets' earlier fiasco.
“Oh,” Brice said, suddenly remembering something, “Ma said you and John are coming to Christmas dinner.”
Brice had to bite her lip to keep from smiling at the look of utmost surprise on Greer's face.
Greer stammered, “I…well…thanks. That's nice but…” The teenager took a breath to calm herself, “That's nice but I don't think it's right for John and I to intrude. So I'll have to turn down the invite.”
Brice couldn't help but chuckled, “Ma didn't say you two were invited. She said you and John were coming. You can't get out of this.”
“Hey now,” Greer started to protest. Brice interrupted her, “Do you want to call my Ma and tell her you're not coming to Christmas dinner? Please remember who my Ma is, okay? Majesta. A superhero whose strength is only matched by her stubbornness and temper. Here, I'll dial the number for you.”
Brice started pulling her phone out of her pocket. Greer quickly said, “No, no. We're good. John and I will come to dinner.”
“See? That wasn't so hard,” Brice said with a smile, “You'll like Christmas dinner. It's far less stressful than Thanksgiving.”
“Can we bring anything?” Greer asked, obviously confused with her new role as Christmas guest.
“Nope,” Brice replied, “We have it all covered. Just bring yourself and John.”
“Well actually,” She added as a late thought, “You don't have to bring anything. I'm bringing you and John.”
Greer shook her head, “Remind me to laugh later.”
Brice feigned a pout, “I'm told I'm a funny person.”
“And you are,” Greer replied with a smile that left Brice inconvenienced. Brice muttered as she headed out the door, “I'll make sure you get coal for Christmas.”
“That's fine by me. Nonrenewable sources are going to be worth a lot very soon,” The teenager called to her. Brice had to stifle a smile.
A few days later Brice's mother showed up at Brice's house to take them both shopping for Christmas food. However, Marge wasn't alone in her large, black SUV. Sitting in the passenger seat was Helen, Marge's mother-in-law, whom she did not get along with the majority of the time.
“Grandma,” Brice beamed as she went to hug the older woman, “I didn't know you'd be joining us.”
“Was a last minute thing dear,” Helen replied, kissing Brice's check, “I brought you some of my cookies.”
Brice's smile grew even bigger. As far as Brice was concerned, Helen made the best cookies in the world. She said, “Let me go put these inside. You two should come in and see our tree. It's really beautiful.”
Brice was proud of the tree and wanted to show it off. So Helen and Marge came inside and admired her tree. Helen especially loved Greer's angel on top.
“What a lovely angel.”
“Thank you,” replied Greer, who had come downstairs to see what was going on, “It's been in the family for years.”
Marge smiled at the teenager, “Hello, Greer. How are you?”
Greer smiled back at the dark-haired superhero, “Good. So are yall off to go grocery shopping?”
“Yes. It's a tradition for us girls to do the shopping for holidays,” Marge replied. She walked over and put an arm around Greer, “Would you like to come along? I mean, you and John are joining us for dinner after all.”
Greer looked shell-shocked, “I…I can't. I mean, I would love to but I can't. Someone has to watch John and…”
“Oh no worries, dear. We can drop John off at the house with Michael and Mark,” Helen said with a large smile. It faintly connected in Greer's mind that Brice got her smile from her father, who got it from Helen.
Brice merely stood by as the two older women convinced Greer to come along with them. She knew there was no stopping the women when they agreed on something and they agreed Greer should come with them. She even had time to help herself to a cookie before Greer reluctantly agreed to come along.
As the four women left the house with John in tow, Brice offered, “Would you like me to drive. Ma?”
Marge rounded on her daughter, “Are you implying I can't drive?”
Brice considered her options carefully before she replied. “Yes.”
Marge glared at her daughter, “I've been driving since before you were a twinkle in my eye. In fact you were conceived in…”
“Ma!” Brice shouted, suddenly appalled, “Your mother-in-law is standing right there. Do you really want to finish that sentence?”
“Get in the back seat, Brice,” Marge growled.
Brice got into the back seat with John and Greer, who was trying her best to cover a smile. Brice wished she wouldn't try to cover it up because she also thought Greer looked especially beautiful when she smiled.
After they dropped John off at Marge's house, the women went shopping for Christmas food. Brice found having Greer along made it much more enjoyable. For one, Marge and Helen bombarded Greer with questions instead of arguing with each other. They asked her questions like what was her power and what she wanted to do after she graduated high school. Greer answered, “Telekinetics with a faint ability to have premonitions, and I'm not sure yet what I want to do outside of high school.”
The hours went quickly as they bought turkeys, hams, and many other ingredients. Since Marge wanted tomatoes, they went to Greenthumb's Market. Greenthumb was a superhero who could grow any type of vegetable or fruit on demand and they tasted wonderfully. Marge liked to support human growers, but Greenthumb's really did have the best tomatoes in the world. Greenthumb was actually getting old in age, but his store would continue on after he died. He had his children, who shared his gift, and also took on apprentices with superpowers similar to his. The market was located on a remote Fiji island.
Brice and Greer separated from Helen and Marge as Brice took Greer to see the wacky fruit and vegetable aisle. There were watermelons shaped like carrots, oranges as big as basketballs, and square grapes.
Halfway across the store, Helen was looking through tomatoes with Marge. She asked, “Are Brice and Greer dating?”
Helen expected a more surprised reaction from Marge, but she didn't get one. Marge simply replied, “Of course not. Greer's only nineteen.”
“I was nineteen when I married Mark's father.”
“Yeah, but you and Steven were the same age. Brice is nine years older than Greer.”
Helen merely stared at Marge, who fidgeted. Marge growled, “Stop looking at me like that. Fine, if you must know, Brice is seeing someone else. She hasn't told me about her and I haven't asked. So Brice and Greer are not dating each other because Brice is seeing someone else.”
Helen appeared to give this some thought, “Well, if they aren't dating then I'm certain Brice has no clue as to the looks she gives Greer or that Greer returns those looks. Brice is probably unaware of any of her feelings towards that young lady.”
“You're probably right,” Marge replied, “But it's not our business.”
Back across the store, Greer had frozen. Brice asked, concerned, “What is it?”
The bus driver was shocked as Greer suddenly grabbed her arm. Greer had also refrained from touching Brice, but now she was gripping Brice so tightly Brice was sure she would have a bruise the next day. However, she didn't care about that because Greer looked afraid.
“A bomb,” Greer whispered, panicked, “Someone just walked in with a bomb attached to herself.”
Brice whirled her head to start looking around. She pulled Greer closer and whispered, “What does she look like? Tell me, Greer.”
“I don't know. I couldn't see her face. I just saw the store entrance and flashed on the bomb,” Greer replied.
Brice grabbed Greer by the hand and they walked urgently towards Helen and Marge. Ignoring the look of surprise on her mother's and grandmother's face due to the fact she was holding Greer's hand, she quickly and quietly told Marge and Helen what Greer had seen. Being trained superheroes, they were able to get more information out of Greer.
“You said she was a woman. How do you know?” Helen asked.
“She had breasts,” Greer replied, as if it should have been obvious.
“Okay, how big?”
Greer stared at Brice's grandmother in shock, “C's I guess. Not too big but obviously there. Wait, she has a black leather coat on. It was open, but the device was strapped to her sides.”
Marge, who had gone into her superhero role of Majesta, said, “There's no way we can get everyone out of here without causing a scene.”
“She picked quite the spot. The only people who come here belong to the superhero community. Superheroes, sidekicks, and their families,” Helen replied. Helen was once Whirlwind, one of the fastest women in the world, but she had retired.
“Brice, I need you to call the superhero emergency line and report what Greer saw. Then I want you two to go to the car and wait while Helen and I take care of this.”
“I'm not leaving you two in here,” Brice exclaimed.
Marge growled, “I'm not arguing with you, Brice. Get Greer out of here and call for help. Now!”
Brice glared at her mother before pulling out of there. She grabbed Greer's hand again and started pulling her towards the exit. She took out her phone and was dialing 911-911-9111 when someone stepped in front of them. A lady asked, “Excuse me, can you tell me where to find the potatoes?”
Brice looked up at the woman and at the same time Greer started digging her nails into Brice's hand. It was then that Brice noticed the woman's black leather coat that hung open to reveal her size C breasts.
“Umm, aisle three I think,” Brice tried to answer calmly.
The woman, who had red hair and green eyes, continued to stare at Brice. Brice's phone, which was slightly away from her ear and on high volume, said, “Thank you for calling Flo's Flower shop. How may I help you?”
The woman's eyes narrowed. Brice gulped when she realized the woman must have heard and knew that a flower shop was the superhero hotline's cover.
“My…my…my wife's having a baby,” She tried to lie, pointing over her shoulder at Greer.
“Really?” The woman asked, clearly unconvinced, “Well you best let me take you both to the hospital.”
“Oh there's no need for that. I'm sure…”
“No, I insist,” The woman interrupted. She grabbed the phone from Brice's hand and started pulling her out of the store. Brice let go of Greer's hand, allowing the teenager the chance to get away, but Greer refused to let go.
The woman led them out into the parking lot and towards a car. Brice knew that if they left with this woman, it wasn't going to end well. The woman had other plans. She whirled around with a crazed look in her eye and asked, “What do you want for Christmas?”
“To live,” Brice answered.
The woman laughed as she pulled back the sides of her coat to show the bomb. Greer whispered urgently into Brice's ear, “That's enough C4 to blow up the entire island.”
“Good to know,” Brice dryly replied.
The woman laughed, “So you knew what I was going to do. Congratulations, but you can't stop me. This device will trigger if someone tries to take it off of me. It's set to explode in five minutes or when I push this button.” She pulled out a handheld device from her pocket with a red button on top. Brice crazily wondered why it was always a red button.
Brice asked, desperate to buy some time, “Why are you doing this?”
The woman merely shook her head, “There isn't an explanation for everything. And I'm not going to jabber away while you try to think of a plan to save the day. So let's get this show on the road.”
The woman lifted up the handheld trigger and was about to press the button when it went flying out of her hand. Brice and the bomb-strapped woman watched it fly away. Brice knew that was Greer's work.
The woman glared at both of them, suddenly raging mad, “You can't stop me!”
She pressed a button on her bomb and Brice and Greer watched as a timer appeared. The timer read 9 minutes 06 seconds but it suddenly started counting down at an excelled rate.
The woman screamed as she was propelled into the air. Brice could tell from the grip on her hand that Greer was straining to keep her flying away.
Brice knew Greer wasn't strong enough to lift the woman and her bomb far enough into the sky to save them all. She hadn't attended the superhero high school she drove a school bus for, so she had never taken the explosives course where she would have learned how to deal with a large bomb. Greer hadn't taken the course yet either but she was signed up for it in the spring. Brice, however, was a fan of Mythbusters and she recalled the episode about the best way to stop a grenade from killing everyone around you. The best way had been to toss it in a bucket of water.
“Into the water!” Brice shouted, “Drive her deep into the water! It's our only chance!”
Greer did as she was told. Since the island wasn't big, the shore was 100 yards from where they stood. She gripped Brice's hand tight as she used all her power to send the woman flying towards the shoreline. In a last change of plans, she divided her power in two. Half of her brain focused on sending the bomb straight into the ocean and down as deep as it would go. The other half jerked the woman back towards them.
The woman hadn't lied about how the bomb would detonate if removed from her. However, there was a two second delay before the explosion. Those two seconds were enough for Greer's power to shoot it deep into the ocean. Brice and Greer watched as a bubble started to form under the water and then exploded into the sky. They were knocked off their feet by the shock wave and were soaked as water rained down on them.
It took Brice a second to regain her senses. She was aware she was being pulled to her feet and was aware her mother was talking to her, but she couldn't make out what the woman was saying. Her ears wouldn't stop ringing. She asked, more like shouted, “Is Greer okay? Is everyone okay?”
Brice stumbled as she turned, her inner ear messed up, but she was relieved to see Greer alive and standing. She stumbled towards the woman and wrapped her in a giant hug, “You did it! Greer, you did it!”
The next hour was a blur for Brice and Greer. Emergency vehicles arrived. The bomber had been found alive, lying on the beach, though badly injured from the bomb. She was rushed away to a hospital. A few other people, along with Brice and Greer, had been in the parking lot at the time of the explosion but were just scrapped up.
Brice was interviewed and questioned a dozen times while Greer was interviewed and questioned two dozen times. Brice couldn't have been prouder of Greer. She had saved the day like a true superhero. Greenthumb even offered Greer discounted prices for the rest of her life for saving his store and everyone inside of it.
Marge said, “Kid, you sure got the stuff of a true superhero. I think you'd make a good one. Any superhero would be proud to take you on as an apprentice.”
Greer was left speechless. Most high school graduates from her school who wanted to become superheroes went on to receive generalized training from a variety of teachers before going out to save the world. A special few were offered the chance to be a superhero's apprentice. They received special one-on-one training.
Brice smiled at Greer, “Now it's my turn to thank you for saving my life.”
blushed, “You're welcome.”
“You'd make one heck of a superhero if that's what you wanted to do,” Brice commented.
“I can see why my father became one. You know the anniversary of his death is coming up,” Greer quietly stated.
Brice moved closer to her, though she didn't touch her, unsure if Greer would allow that now that they weren't in danger. Her heart went out to Greer.
Greer and John's father had been a superhero years ago. A few days before Christmas his wife, a powerful psychic, had foreseen a villain blowing up a mall full of shoppers. He had diffused the bomb but the villain had shot him in the back of the head. John, Greer, and their mother had seen it happen minutes before as a premonition. They couldn't stop it.
“He would be proud of you right now,” Brice said.
Greer smiled, “I know.”
The rest of the shopping trip was uneventful. Greer actually fell asleep in the back of the SUV. Marge said it was from using so much of her power. Marge's SUV had come out scratch free from the bomb. It was explosion resistant, Marge had proudly stated.
Marge dropped Brice and Greer off at Brice's house. She carried the sleeping teenager inside and up to her bedroom. Marge then promised to drop John off later and Brice kissed her mother and grandmother goodbye.
Brice was surprised when Amelia showed up on her doorstep thirty minutes after her mother left .
“I heard about the explosion,” Amelia said, “Let me look at you.”
Amelia ran her eyes over Brice from head to toe, checking her from her skin to her bones, “Nothing more than a few bruises. Jesus, Brice, you could have been killed.”
Amelia wrapped her arms securely around Brice. Brice hugged her back, “I know, but I wasn't. Greer really saved the day. We all would have been sky high if it hadn't been for her.”
“Well, remind me to thank her.”
Amelia ended up staying for dinner. Marge dropped John off later. He knew all about the explosion because he and Michael had been watching TV. John ran upstairs to check on his sister, extremely worried, and it took Amelia swearing on her doctor's degree that she was just sleeping before he would calm down. Brice was pleased John got along with Amelia.
The next morning when Greer woke up, she was treated to a hero's breakfast. Brice and John had made every kind of breakfast food they could think of to show Greer how much they appreciated her. Greer tried to hide the fact that her eyes had watered.
On the 23rd of December Brice awoke to find Greer and John in a very solemn mood. She realized it was the anniversary of their father's death. Very little was spoken over breakfast until Greer announced she and John were going to take a cab to pay respect at their father's grave and at his superhero memorial.
“Okay, but you don't have to take a cab,” Brice replied, “I'd be happy to take you.”
Greer looked unsure, “I'd rather not take a bus to a graveyard.”
“Well, let me arrange to borrow my mom's SUV.”
Greer still looked hesitant, “I don't want to impose on...”
“Greer,” Brice softly said, looking her in her eyes, “If you don't want me to go, that's fine. But if you don't mind, I'd like to take you.”
“Okay,” Greer agreed.
Brice made a quick trip up to her parents' house to get her mother's SUV and drove it back to her house. She changed into somber colors to match Greer and John, who had dressed in dark clothes. Greer quietly asked Brice to stop at a floral shop where she bought two bouquets of dark, red roses. She then gave Brice directions to a tiny church graveyard in Alabama, not far from Greer and John's house.
Greer and John led the way through rows of tombstones and concrete markers. Brice found it interesting that there were some Confederate soldiers buried there. They soon came to a stop at a marker in the newer part of the cemetery. It was a really simple marker. It stated when Garrison Watson was born and died. Etched near the bottom it said he was a loving husband and father.
The marker would never raise any eyebrows. No one would ever realize that a superhero lay in that grave. However it wasn't a grave for a superhero. It was a grave for a man, a husband and a father. John laid one bouquet of roses on his grave and started cleaning up around it, pulling grass and dusting the marker.
Neither Watson child said anything. Brice didn't know whether it was because she was there, or because they said it mentally. After a time, Greer stated they should go to his memorial.
Garrison's superhero memorial was outside the mall he had saved on his last day alive. Standing tall and proud was a bronze statue of Bronze-Mover, Garrison's alias. Brice easily recognized the smile on the superhero's face as John's smile.
All around the statue were lit candles, pictures and flowers. There were even a few people standing around it. As Greer walked up to lay down the second bouquet, a woman Brice's age spoke to her.
“Were you here four years ago?” She asked.
Greer glanced at her, “I had a relative who was.”
The woman smiled, “We were lucky that day. I come here every year on this day to thank Bronze-Mover for saving my life. I was pregnant at the time. Now my little girl is four and if it hadn't been for him, neither she nor I would be here.”
Brice smiled upon hearing that and she noticed Greer had an expression of pride upon her face.
“He was a great man,” she replied, “I'm glad he was able to save you and so many others.”
As Greer and the woman continued to talk, John asked Brice, “Is this what it is like to die a superhero? To have statues put up of you?”
“For a superhero, yes. But I think it's like that for all heroes. Not every hero, whether they be super, sidekicks, or everyday heroes like teachers, firemen, or soldiers gets a big bronze statue, but they have a statue of them erected somewhere. Even if it's just in the minds and hearts of those they've helped.”
John gave this some thought, “I want to be a superhero like my Dad. I know Greer doesn't think I should and I know Mama won't approve, but that's what I want to be. I want to help and save people like he did. Not for statues, but just to make him proud of me.”
“He's already proud of you, John. He'd be proud of you whether you became a superhero or a ditch digger. He would just want you to be happy,” Brice said, knowing that her words were true even though she hadn't known Garrison Watson personally. As they left the memorial, Brice sent a thought of thanks to the man and superhero who had fathered Greer and John. She got the feeling if he was around today, he'd say they were the greatest achievements in his life.
The next day, Christmas Eve, went quickly. The trio spent the day doing miscellaneous things. Brice asked Greer when she and John would like to go visit their mother on Christmas day, and Greer replied in the afternoon, after they had dinner with Brice's family.
When night fell, Brice had Greer and John dress warmly and they drove up to her family's house. Her parents had a party for all their friends on Christmas Eve. It was also the night the houses would be judged to see who won the neighborhood competition. They drove through the neighborhood to admire all the lights before ending at her parents' house. Greer gasped, “Oh my God.”
Brice made a show of switching on the bus's sunlight deflector, “Yep. It's bright.”
Mark had covered every inch of the house with Christmas lights. There were Santa Clauses and reindeer everywhere. He had almost placed a good two inches of snow on the front yard. It was actually snowing across the rest of New England, but this superhero neighborhood had climate control. They only let it rain and snow in controlled amounts.
“Your dad is sure to win,” John said.
“Well lets hope so. I'd hate to see him lose,” Brice remarked.
The three went inside the house where they were greeted with eggnog. Brice eyed it wearily, “Ma, this is non-alcoholic, isn't it?”
“Of course, pumpkin. The real stuff is in the kitchen,” Her mother replied. Brice rolled her eyes. Her mother only called her pumpkin when she was tipsy.
Marge turned to John, “There's half a foot of fresh snow in the back yard and Mark created a hill for sledding. A bunch of kids are already back there if you want to go join them, buttercup.”
John curiously went to the backyard and Greer followed him to make sure it was safe. Brice went around and greeted her parents' friends. It was only politeness that made her do it. She would soon find a hiding place so she wouldn't have to face people who knew she had disappointed her parents by being a baron. The only person she didn't mind seeing was Jamie Snowplow, her mother's best friend.. Jamie was the older image of her daughter, Noel, who was Brice's best friend. Jamie and Noel had completely opposite personalities though.
“Your mother invited us over for Christmas dinner,” Jamie said, “Me and my girls.”
Brice smiled, “Well, it shall be an interesting dinner then. But Christmas dinner is usually less troublesome than Thanksgiving.”
The bus driver found her way out back where a few kids were playing with John. Most of the people inside had children either Brice's or Michael's age. Brice went over to sit in a chair next to the chair Greer was sitting in.
“You know, there's a place set up in the basement for people your age.”
“A place for teenagers you mean,” Greer countered.
“I guess you could call it that. I just didn't want you to get bored.”
Greer relaxed more in her chair, “I'm happy here.”
They sat together watching the kids play for some time. Brice looked over as the back door opened and her brother stepped out.
Michael was a handsome teenager. Brice knew he was popular in school because of his looks and his ability to fly. He barely glanced at Brice, who he had ignored upon reaching high school and realizing it was very uncool to have a sister who was a baron, but his eyes lingered on Greer. He moved in front of them and held out his hand to Greer.
“We haven't been introduced. I'm Michael.”
“Greer Watson,” Greer replied, shaking his hand.
“So you're John's sister. Pleasure to finally meet you. I heard about your adventure the other day. Very impressive.”
Brice felt like rolling her eyes and growling at the same time. She knew her brother was trying to flirt with Greer and it upset her for some reason.
Greer politely smiled, “Thank you, but it wasn't as glamorous as the news made it seem. I merely reacted to the situation.”
“And saved my Ma, Grandmother and a dozen other superheroes and sidekicks, not to mention old Brice here,” Michael said, flashing her a smile. Greer noted it was the same as Brice's.
“Old Brice here is very pleased to have been saved,” Brice said, trying to keep her voice neutral.
Michael ignored his sister. His attention was fully on Greer, “So you attend International High? I've never seen you before, and I would have noticed you for sure.”
“I attended during Western Hemisphere time. I'll be joining you and John for Eastern Hemisphere time when school starts back.”
Brice felt like she wanted to smack her brother. She might have if her phone hadn't rung. She pulled it out to see it was Amelia. Greer glanced at her and the phone before turning back towards Michael.
As Brice answered, she heard Michael say, “Hey, do you want to go somewhere less child-filled?”
Brice's hazel eyes meet Greer's blue ones for a moment before Greer turned back to Michael, “Sure.”
Brice turned her head so she wouldn't watch them walk away. She simply concentrated on Amelia's voice. They talked for fifteen minutes about this and that before saying goodbye. Brice then wandered back inside.
The party really kicked off when it was announced Mark had won the neighborhood Christmas light competition. He went outside to accept a trophy from the committee, which consisted of professional Christmas light judges, and proudly put it on the mantel next to his other three.
Brice knew it was stupid, but she started drinking her mother's special eggnog. Since her mother only bought the best alcohol in the world, the eggnog went down smoothly and three cups later Brice was tipsy. Since she didn't feel any better, she poured another cup. When Mark came into the kitchen, he found her nursing another cup.
“How many have you had?” Mark asked, tilting his daughter's head back to look at her.
“Impressive. Your mother would be out cold at four.”
“I'm going to regret this in the morning,” Brice muttered, “So stupid. Going to ruin Christmas.”
Mark shook his head, “I'll get you a couple of hangover prevention pills. You'll feel right as rain. You, John, and Greer can stay here tonight.”
“No. Can't. Monty and Python need to be taken care of, and I have to go get John's presents from their house. There are other presents under the tree. Can't.”
“I'll take care of all that. Come on, let's get you up to bed. I'll tell your mother something.”
Mark helped his daughter stand up and was proud when she barely stumbled as they made their way upstairs, avoiding all the guests. She got the alcohol tolerance from him. He took her to her old room, which was now a guest room. He went to get the hangover prevention pills and made her take them. He then tucked her in bed. Brice muttered, “I don't know what to do.”
“You'll figure it out,” He replied, kissing her head.
Brice woke up in the morning to a warm tongue licking her face. She opened her eyes and quickly closed them to prevent her eyeballs from getting licked. She said, “Monty, down.”
Brice sat up and watched as Python jumped off the bed to join his brother. Monty sat on the floor, wagging his tail a hundred miles per hour.
She looked around and saw Greer sleeping on a blowup mattress on the other side of the room. Looking at the clock, she was surprised to see it was six am. As she got up to let her pets out, she couldn't believe how good she felt considering how much she had to drink. She supposed those hangover prevention pills really worked. Before she took her pets downstairs, she stopped at the bathroom to brush her teeth and relieve her full bladder.
She noticed that all of John's presents, and all the other presents that she had under the tree, were now under her family's tree. She supposed there was nothing wrong with this arrangement since she, Greer, and John were coming over anyway.
Her pets were excited to be in a new place, or at least Monty was. She cleaned up after her dog when he went in the backyard and fed them some breakfast. Her dad had grabbed a few cans of their food from her house, and he had also brought Python's litter box.
“Now you two stay out of people's way today,” She ordered, “Don't embarrass me.”
After washing her hands Brice went to work making breakfast and turned the coffee maker on. The smell of coffee lured her mother out of bed.
Marge kissed her daughter on the cheek, “Your father told me you had two cups of the eggnog and didn't feel well enough to drive or take a cab. Not that I mind having both my children under my roof on Christmas Eve, but you best watch the alcohol. You're like me, barely have any tolerance to it.”
“Well, I got a few hours before your Grandmother arrives to help cook. Guess I'd better enjoy this while I can.”
“Yes, Ma,” Brice replied with an eye roll.
Soon Mark, Michael and John were downstairs. John had slept in Michael's room. He had also been tuckered out at the end of the night.
“Go upstairs and get Greer,” Marge told Brice. Michael looked like he wanted the job for himself, but Brice was already out the door before he could offer.
Brice had to smile as she watched Greer sleep. She looked very peaceful. She also looked very young and that thought made Brice frown. She shook her head and placed a hand on the edge of Greer's bed. She started to shake it. The bus driver had learned to avoid touching Greer since it seemed to cause her distress.
Greer's eyes flickered open and she groaned, “What are you doing?It's 7am.”
“And Christmas at the Johnson's house waits for no man. Or woman in this case. Time for breakfast and then presents.”
Greer groaned again but sat up. She followed Brice downstairs where she sat between Michael and John.
Breakfast went fast and soon everyone was in the living room. Opening presents was a wild mess where everyone opened at once after the presents were separated into piles. Brice waited to open her pile so she could watch John open his. He started jumping up and down when he saw his PS9 and gave his sister a huge hug. Michael was pleased to receive his own PS9.
Mark was extremely pleased with his Star Trek Enterprise cufflinks and Marge shot her daughter a look. Brice merely grinned. Mark's gift to his daughter was a giant Swiss army knife which had 85 tools and weighed almost three pounds. She was happy with it though she didn't know if she'd ever use it.
Her mother thanked her for the spa tickets and Brice was awed to see her mother's present was tickets to the Women's World Cup for 2011. Marge said, “Best seats in the place, I'm told. Had to pull some strings to get those so early.”
Greer had the fewest presents of the bunch. She had a few from John and was surprised to see a gift from Marge and Mark. It was a finely crafted superhero utility belt.
“This is too much,” Greer protested, “I can't accept this.”
Brice stopped Greer from saying anything else, “What she means is that you shouldn't have, but she's really thankful. She also really likes it.”
The bus driver leaned over to whisper into Greer's ear, “They're not going to take it back no matter how much you protest.”
Greer shook her head and thanked Mark and Marge properly.
When most of the presents were done being opened, Brice grabbed one she had removed from under the tree earlier.
“Merry Christmas,” Brice said with a grin as she placed Greer's present on her lap.
Greer looked stunned at the heavy package lying in her lap, “Brice, you really shouldn't have…”
Brice waved her hand, “Open it before you say anything else.”
“But you really…”
“Greer, just open the box,” Brice ordered.
Greer gave a frustrated sigh but did as she was told. She tore the nice wrapping, which revealed a plain cardboard box.
“What's in it?” John inquired, looking up from his robots, or cybernetic organisms as he called them. They were given to him by Marge and Mark.
“It's…” Greer broke off. A huge grin came over her face and the blonde haired woman started to laugh, “Coal.”
“What?” John asked, confused.
“It's coal,” Greer laughed as she lifted out a five pound bag of charcoal from the box.
“You earned it,” Brice stated with a straight face.
“Brice,” Marge scolded, “I know you didn't just give Greer a bag of coal.”
“I did, Ma. She earned it.”
Marge shook her head. She didn't push the matter since Greer looked amused. Marge then groaned as Mark pulled out his camera and started taking pictures, “Really, babe, must you do that now. My hair is a mess.”
“You look perfect,” Mark replied, stealing a kiss from his wife before snapping a picture of her. Brice and Michael looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
“Brice, John, sit with Greer on the couch. I'd like one of you three today.”
Brice and John obeyed the older man. John sat beside Greer and Brice sat beside John. They smiled and as Mark snapped the picture, Brice knew she'd be requesting a copy.
John scrambled off the couch when Michael announced he was going to set up his PS9 in the basement. John went to assist him. Brice stayed on the couch, watching her mother. Marge had gotten up and gone into the kitchen. She came back out with a long white candle and set it in a beautiful silver holder on the mantel piece. She carefully lit it and stared at it for the longest time.
“Well, guess it's time to start cooking,” Marge stated. She went back into the kitchen, trying not to show the girls she had tears in her eyes.
Greer gave Brice a questioning look, but didn't ask. Brice answered anyway, “Her mother, Rosalie, died around this time of the year about 20 years ago. It was PMN.”
Greer's face took on a look of sympathy. Any person with superpowers didn't get cancer like other humans. They had their own type of cancer, named Percale's Malignant Neoplasm after who discovered it, which only affected them. It affected nearly seven percent of the superhero community and a person could develop it at any time. It started in the mutated cells, the same ones that gave them their powers, and spread to all the organs. Despite the millions of dollars that had been poured into research, a cure had never been found. Every superhero who contracted PMN died from it. Though no one enjoyed the pun, it was a superhero's super-cancer.
Brice and Greer were interrupted from their sad thoughts by a knock on the door. Since it was Noel who knocked, she entered without being greeted in. Jamie came in behind her, scolding her, “Noel! You're supposed to wait to be allowed in.”
“Like you don't come right in,” Noel retorted. She took off her jacket and hung it up. She then helped Alice's take hers off. Brice made a whip cracking noise and she found Alice's jacket being thrown at her.
“Noel,” Alice gently scolded, “Behave. It's Christmas.”
Brice pulled the jacket off her head and said, going to hang it up, “She misbehaves no matter what time of the year it is.”
“You are too right Brice,” Jamie said, giving the bus driver a kiss on the cheek, “Where's your mother?”
“In the kitchen, cooking up a storm before Grandma arrives.”
Jamie left to find her best friend and the three women sat with Greer in the living room. As Greer and Alice exchanged polite conversation about school, Brice waited until Noel met her eyes. Brice rubbed the top of her ring finger and briefly glanced at Alice. Noel telepathically said, “No, not yet.”
Brice asked mentally, “Why not?”
Noel's reply rang in her head, “I haven't found the right time yet.”
“Chicken,” Brice replied, unknowingly out loud.
“What was that Brice?” Alice asked.
“Uhh, I was wondering if we were having chicken for dinner.”
Greer shot Brice a look of disbelief, “We're having turkey and ham. You were there when we bought them.”
Brice tried to chuckle, “Oh, yes.”
Helen soon arrived. Things got noisy in the kitchen for the next hour until Marge stormed out to announce dinner was done.
Brice noticed that Michael went out of his way to sit beside Greer. He also had a nice viewpoint of Alice. She honestly didn't know why it bothered her so much.
Dinner went smoothly with only one small hiccup when Marge and Jamie started talking about what their children had got them for Christmas.
“Brice got me a trip for two to this great spa.”
“Really?” Jamie inquired, “Noel got me something similar. The Serenity Palace in Switzerland?”
“Yes, that's the place.”
Both mothers looked at their daughters. Noel turned to glare at Brice, “You stole my gift idea!”
“You don't own any gift ideas,” Brice retorted, “I have the right to give my mother whatever I want.”
“Girls, girls,” Marge said, “Calm down. They are both thoughtful gifts and I know Jamie and I can't wait to go with you girls to the spa.”
Noel's and Brice's jaws both dropped simultaneously.
“Spa? Me?” They replied, stunned.
Brice shook her head, “Why don't you take each other?”
Jamie smiled, “Well that wouldn't make sense. We both have two tickets. This way we get to be with each other and with our girls.”
“But, I mean, you can go two separate times with each other,” Noel rapidly said, trying to think of a way out of going to the spa with her mother.
“Yes, we could, but this will be more fun. Don't worry girls, we'll choose a date where you'll both be off,” Marge said with a devilish smile.
Noel and Brice slumped in defeat. They glared at each other and then at Alice, who had a smirk on her face. Alice commented, “I'm sure you'll both have a lovely time with your mothers. A trip to the spa will be good for both of you.”
Brice and Noel then glared at her, realizing they had both been conned by the stunning, dark-skinned woman from South Africa.
Besides the small hiccup, Brice found it was one of the best Christmas dinners the Johnson family had had in a long time. Under the cover of the table cloth, she and Amelia exchanged Christmas texts since Mark had enforced the table was a no-cellphone zone. That didn't stop Noel's phone from ringing loudly when she received a message.
“Was that a Justin Bieber ringtone?” Brice asked.
“No,” Noel growled. She stepped out of the room to read the message and Brice flinched when Noel mentally ordered her to join her. Since Noel sounded serious, Brice excused herself from the table. Once out of the room, Noel led her upstairs and Brice pulled them into her old room.
“What's wrong?” Brice asked. Noel looked grim.
“I got a message from one of my buddies, who is a guard in the superhero prison. It seems there was a breakout.”
Brice looked confused, “What does this have to do with me?”
Noel sighed, “Do you remember Duster?”
Brice frowned, “The woman who tried to kill Greer and shoot me with a very painful dart, no I don't recall her at all. Yes, I remember her! Are you telling me she broke out?”
“Aren't maximum security prisons supposed to be, you know, secure?” Brice snapped.
“I think we should put you in protective services,” Noel stated, her voice completely serious.
Brice blinked in surprise, “Excuse me?”
“Duster might hold a grudge against you, Brice. You stopped her killing spree at the high school. She might come after you.”
Brice shook her head, “She shot me, Noel. I just happened to survive since I was a baron. If she goes after anyone, it would be the students who captured her after she shot me.”
“They're being placed in protective services as we speak,” Noel said, “Now let me do the same for you.”
“What are you two talking about in here?”
Noel and Brice turned to see Alice standing in the doorway. She stepped inside and Greer was right behind her.
Noel started to fidget, “Nothing. Just talking. Brice wanted to have her hair cut.”
Brice shot Noel a look of disbelief, “No, I don't.”
Brice winced as Noel screamed at her telepathically to play along, “I mean…she wants me to cut my hair but I wasn't sure it would look good.”
Neither Alice nor Greer looked convinced. Alice crossed her arms and started to tap her foot, “I'm waiting, Noel.”
“Umm, shorter hair would be better,” The white-haired woman said, twiddling her thumbs.
“Noel,” Alice snapped.
The information quickly fell from Noel's mouth, “Duster broke out of a prison and I think she's going to attack Brice.”
“Duster as in the woman who tried to kill me Duster?” Greer asked.
Brice answered, “That would be the one.”
“Why do you think she's after Brice?” Alice asked, “Have you received any information?”
Noel looked down at her feet, “No, but…”
“So the reason you want to put Brice in protective services is because you're worried about her and you don't want anything to happen to your best friend,” Alice stated.
Noel's cheeks reddened, “I didn't say that!”
there a chance of Brice being in danger?” Greer asked, clearly concerned.
Brice decided it was getting far too emotional in the room. She said, a hint of steel in her voice, “Now hear this, superheroes, I am NOT going into protective services. I am going downstairs to have some pumpkin pie, and that's the end of this conversation.”
Brice marched out of the room and no one tried to stop her.
Noel said, pulling out her blackberry to make notes, “I'm going to increase the security of her house. I just get the feeling she's not safe.”
“I'll keep an eye on her,” Greer added, “I mean, I'm living with her. I can be a live in guard.”
“That's not a bad idea. I can give you special training,” Noel said.
Alice shook her head at them, but she didn't stop them from making plans. Brice wouldn't like what they were planning, but if it kept Brice safe then it would be worth it. She was also happy that Noel was acting normal again. Alice had noticed Noel seemed out of sorts the past few weeks like she was hiding something and trying to tell Alice something at the same time.
When the trio went back downstairs, Brice had kept her promise. She was eating a large piece of pumpkin pie and acting as if she hadn't been told a supervillainess had just escaped prison and might be after her.
Everyone left soon after dessert was consumed. Brice loaded everything in her bus that was going back to her house including Greer, John, their presents, Monty and Python. Monty and Python were very happy and full from all the scraps Marge had given them.
After dropping off Monty and Python at the house and unloading the bus, Brice took Greer and John to see their mother. The mental institution was located in Indiana so it was only a ten minute drive from Brice's house.
Brice parked the bus in the institution's parking lot. She gave Greer and John what she hoped was an encouraging smile as they exited the bus with a couple of presents they had gotten their mother. She adjusted her chair to recline as she settled herself in for a wait.
The first time Greer and John had visited their mother in the institution, Brice had made the error of joining them. Judy Watson had taken one look at Brice and threw a book at her. She started screaming that Brice had kidnapped her children and then called her everything from a child-molester to a murderer. The bus driver had quickly vacated the area and offered to stay in the car until they got Judy's prescription dosage right. Brice hadn't been too upset about the encounter. It was like the first time she and Judy had met.
The mental institution was known as a private facility to the regular world. Only special clients were admitted. The regular world didn't know it was a mental institution for mentally unstable superheroes, sidekicks, and other members of the superhero world. Brice supposed it was a nice looking place, but she never liked mental institutions after seeing the first few minutes of The House on Haunted Hill. She couldn't bring herself to finish it even though it starred Famke Jannsen and Ali Larter.
Brice was surprised when John came back outside five minutes later. She knew not to ask from the look on his face. Fifteen minutes later, Greer joined them looking very grim. Brice drove them back to the house without saying a word.
When the trio arrived back at the house, Greer and Brice agreed to help John set up his PS9. He went to the living room to unpack the box, leaving Greer and Brice in the hallway. Brice was just about to ask what happened when Greer started talking.
“She was completely out of it,” Greer sighed, “Like she's been every year since Dad died. The doctors said she had been doing better but when the 23rd came...well...they've had a hard time controlling her.”
Brice gave her a look of sympathy, “I'm sorry. It doesn't help, I know.”
Greer shrugged and exhaled deeply, “That's not the worst of it. For a momentshe was coherent. She seemed to know about the bomb at Greenthumb's. She got so angry at me. Started asking me if I wanted to be a dead superhero like my father. Asked me if I wanted to die and abandon John and her like he did.”
Even though Brice knew Judy Watson was insane, she felt a rush of anger towards the woman. Whatever Brice was about to say was lost as John asked them to come help him with the cords. Greer flashed her a weak smile as they headed into the living room, “It's okay, Brice. I can handle my mother, crazy or not.”
Brice made a mental note to bring the subject up again. While she wasn't thrilled with the idea of Greer becoming a superhero, she had long gotten used to the idea that superheroes and sidekicks die doing their duty. She knew that any day she could get a phone call saying her mother or Noel had been killed just doing their jobs. It wasn't something easy to live with, but live with it she did.
After setting up the PS9, they decided to have turkey sandwiches for dinner. They set up an assembly line along the kitchen counter.
“Nothing like a sandwich,” John remarked as he spread mayonnaise on a piece of toast.
Brice and Greer shared an amused smile. Brice was putting pieces of turkey onto the bread John prepared and Greer cut the turkey sandwiches in half. Greer suddenly went still.
“What's wrong?” Brice asked.
“I thought I heard someone pull up.”
Greer's thought was confirmed as someone started knocking on the door. Brice looked impressed, “You got some good ears. I wonder who that could be.”
Brice started towards the door but found her path blocked by Greer, who was holding tightly onto her sandwich knife.
“I'll get it,” Greer firmly said, “Stay here until I say it's safe.”
Brice's jaw dropped in surprise and before she could protest, Greer was already by the front door. Greer checked the peephole and called out, “Looks like Noel…like an upset Noel.”
Brice rushed to the door and started unlocking it. Greer gaped at her like she was crazy, “It could be Duster! Don't open it!”
Brice smacked Greer's hands out of the way and finished unlocking the door. She revealed Noel, who did look very upset. Brice tugged Noel inside and exclaimed when she saw Noel's red-rimmed eyes , “Have you been crying? What's wrong?”
Noel sniffed a few times, obviously trying not to cry in front of them. Brice and Greer looked at each other, unsure what to do with the white-haired superhero. Deciding she was Noel's best friend, Brice wrapped her arms around Noel in an awkward hug. The moment she did, Noel sobbed, “She wont marry me! I asked and…and…”
Brice's heart broke for her friend. She tightened her arms around Noel and let her cry. “I'm sorry, Noel. It will be okay.”
Noel wrenched away from the bus driver and glared at her with tear-filled eyes. “No, it wont! I was stupid to think she could love me that much. I'm obviously not marrying material.”
As Brice started protesting, Noel pulled something out her pocket. Brice quieted as Noel opened her hand to show the beautiful ring she had bought for Alice. She watched as the ring was encased into a ball of ice. Noel growled, “I never want to see this thing again.”
Before Brice could stop her, Noel rushed to the still open door and threw the ring as hard as she could. Brice watched in horror as a ring worth enough to feed a small country for half a year was thrown into the dark woods by her house. As Noel collapsed to the floor, crying again, Brice stared in amazement as the globe of ice stopped in mid-flight and started flying back towards the house.
Greer caught the encased ring with ease, and Brice flashed her a grateful smile. The teenager headed into the kitchen to melt the ball of ice while Brice pulled her friend inside and to the couch.
It took Brice several minutes to calm Noel down. Once she was, Brice ordered gently, “Tell me what happened.”
Noel sniffed, “We left your parents' house and came home to fall asleep on the couch. When we woke up, we made dinner and while we were eating at the table, I realized there would never be a perfect time to ask her to marry me. So I fished the ring out of my pocket and knelt down beside her chair. I held out the ring and asked her to marry me.”
A single tear rolled down her cheek and Brice gave her friend a look of sympathy. “What did she say exactly?” Brice asked.
“She didn't say anything.”
Brice blinked once, twice, “So she looked completely repulsed by the idea?”
“No,” Noel answered, “She just stared at the ring, not saying anything.”
“So she didn't say no?”
Noel cried, “She didn't say yes! She didn't say no, but she didn't have to! She said nothing and after a minute, I couldn't take it anymore and just ran out of the house. I drove straight here.”
Brice merely stared at her friend. She finally said, “Noel, you're an idiot.”
“What?” Noel barked. It was not what she wanted to hear.
“She didn't say no! She was probably in shock and you ran away before she could say anything! You're…”
Brice was interrupted by a sudden pounding on the door. A person shouted on the other side, “Noel! I know you're in there! Open this fucking door right now or I'll burn it down!”
“You're an idiot and you're in trouble,” Brice finished as she quickly went to open the door. She didn't want to have to get a new one.
Alice completely ignored Brice as she stormed into the living room. Noel seemed to shrink when she noticed how angry her girlfriend looked. Even Brice was scared by how angry Alice looked. She retreated into the kitchen to allow them some privacy, though she could clearly hear everything Alice shouted.
“How dare you run away from me like that! Don't 'but' me! Did I say you could speak? I want you to listen to me closely, Noel…”
Brice was smirking as she entered the kitchen. She already knew their story was going to end happily. Greer was standing by the stove when she entered, her back to Brice. “Where's John?”
Greer's back stiffened in surprise before she spun around, putting her hands behind her back. She said, “Umm, he went upstairs with Monty and Python, I think.”
Brice's eyebrows came together in a frown and she asked, “What are you hiding?”
“Nothing,” Greer replied quickly.
Brice gave a little laugh and moved to stand by the blonde. She held out her hand and gestured for Greer to show what she had. A deep blush crossed Greer's cheeks as she held out her left hand. Brice smiled down at the stunning ring she wore, “I think they're going to want that back.”
“I know. I was just curious,” Greer muttered, her cheeks still burning red.
Brice took Greer's hand and when her fingers touched the ring, Greer gasped.
“What?” Brice asked, almost afraid of the answer.
Greer looked uncomfortable, but softly said, “I saw someone giving me an engagement ring. That's all.”
It was Brice's turn to look uncomfortable. She gently, but quickly, slipped the ring off Greer's finger. She awkwardly cleared her throat, “It looked beautiful on you. I'm sure the one you get will be just as beautiful.”
Bright blue eyes met hazel ones in a long stare. Brice's cell phone chirped, signaling a text. The moment was broken. Brice turned, fishing the phone out of her pocket, “It's Amelia.”
“Of course it is,” Greer coolly said, “You had better give the ring back to Noel before she starts to panic.”
Brice nodded and went back into the living room, where Alice was finishing up her lecture.
“Now what do you have to say for yourself, Noel?”
Noel fell to her knees in front of Alice and asked, tears in her eyes, “I want you to marry me. Please say yes. I know I'm not the best person, but I'll try to be the best wife. I'll work hard to make you happy. I know it may not seem like the best deal now but…”
“Yes,” Alice said with a bright smile.
Noel looked shell-shocked. “What?”
Alice cupped Noel's cheek, her dark hand contrasting with Noel's white skin. “I said yes, sweetie.”
Noel's eyes filled with tears again but she leapt to her feet to pull Alice into a kiss. “Did you hear that, Brice? She said yes.”
Brice chuckled with a large satisfied smile on her face.
“Can I have that beautiful ring now?” Alice asked, a large smile on her face as well.
A look of horror came over Noel's face and she looked like she was going to pass out. “The ring…”
“It's right here,” Brice said, holding it up with her fingers. Noel gave Brice a look of deepest gratitude. She crossed the living room and placed a solid kiss on Brice's cheek as she took the ring from her. “Thank you.”
Noel went back to Alice and took her dark hand in her pale one.
“It's beautiful,” Alice said as the ring was slipped on her finger, “and it fits perfectly.”
“And you will marry me?” Noel asked again, fearful that Alice had changed her mind in the last minute.
Alice brightly smiled, “Yes.”
The kiss that followed had Brice looking away. She felt like she was intruding on their private moment, even if it was happening in her living room. Brice was surprised to see Greer by her side, also looking away from Alice and Noel, who had deepened their kiss. When their eyes met, Greer shrugged with a smile as if to say, “What do you expect? They're in love.”
Brice smiled but realized she didn't want her friends to continue what they were doing in her living room. Hands were starting to grope and she didn't want to see any article of clothing coming off.
“Alright, ladies, you'll have to continue this somewhere else. I don't want my living room to suddenly freeze over or burst into flames.”
The couple didn't stop what they were doing. Brice sighed heavily as Greer chuckled. Brice said, trying to sound stern, “Ladies! Greer's going to toss you out of the house. You have to the count of ten. One, two, three, four…”
Noel and Alice slowly and reluctantly broke apart. The newly engaged couple turned toward Brice and Greer, looking as if someone had made all their dreams come true. With a few, quick goodbyes, the couple were on their way home.
Brice muttered as she closed the door, “Thank God.”
“It was kinda romantic,” Greer remarked.
“I'm not an overly romantic person,” Brice confessed.
It was the confused tone in Greer's voice that had Brice glancing at her. Greer generally looked confused as if Brice did romantic things all the time.
“Yeah. Continuously doing romantic things feels like bribing.”
“So you don't do a lot of romantic gestures?” Greer asked, still confused.
“Not really,” Brice replied, “Now we better double check the doors. Supposedly there's this big, bad supervillainess on the loose who Noel thinks is after this poor, little bus driver.”
“Didn't you hear?” Greer asked as she went to check the front door, “Bus drivers are in demand. Something about them being an old, dying breed.”
“You wound me, Greer, you really do.”
Virus glanced up from the papers he had been reading as his second-in-command waltzed into his lair. Duster eased herself into a chair on his right-hand side, where only she could sit, “Glad to be back, Boss. I'm ready to get back into action. What's our new target?”
Virus smiled, pleased, “It's good to see prison hasn't changed you, Duster. This is our new target. You two have met before.”
Duster took the papers Virus slid to her and started looking them over. She exclaimed, torn between being confused, angry, and excited, “Her? That bitch that ruined my killing spree at the high school? Why her?”
Virus was the worst kind of supervillain, he was a patient one. He said, “What do you recall about how she stopped your killing spree?”
“There's nothing to recall. The stupid baron got in the way of my dart gun and then I got sloppy and let some fucking kids take me down.”
“And what was in your dart gun?”
Duster thought, “Well just the usual superhero and sidekick killer toxic, which of course she can survive since she's a baron. And for kicks and giggles I added… oh… OH…”
Duster's eyes widened as she remembered the second ingredient she had added to her dart gun, “But Virus, how could she…no one has ever…ever. There's no way she could have…”
“Exactly,” Virus commented, leaning back in his chair, “And that is why she's our new target.”
In Brice's next adventure:
As graduation for the International High seniors nears, Brice is faced with betrayal and a supervillain.
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