We continued on in our daily lives, our usual daily grind. Larabee’s project was a success, and he kept his job. That was good. He liked his job. It suited him. He was a mad scientist, after all. He was glad to have his project over with, though, so that he could go back to the plans he kept making for the wedding. For my part, that idea of eloping was looking better and better each day, and I told April that—when I could actually get her to talk.
She was really stressed, between the wedding, the exams, finishing her student teaching, and keeping an eye on Brady.
Maybe it was my insecurity or my jealousy, but I was starting to get rather desperate to see her. Desperate enough to do something a little crazy.
And a lot stupid.
She had told him not to do this. She had specifically and repeatedly informed him that he was not supposed to do this. That might have made it more tempting to do it, actually. Clayton didn’t usually go against what she wanted—he cared about her too much for that. Today, though, he had gotten into a particular mood, and he was sick of missing her. He had left work early, making up some excuse that no one cared about, and he didn’t feel like tracking down any of the known members of the conspiracy, either. He should, but none of them had done anything interesting since they asked Brady to be friends with April again, so it seemed like such a waste of time.
And he just plain old missed her. She had been so busy lately that he didn’t get to see her and barely got to talk to her. He wanted his girlfriend back for a few hours. That wasn’t too much to ask.
Though… Given the method that he’d chosen, she would probably be kind of pissed.
“…And so after that, what did the princess do?” April asked, closing the book she’d just finished reading to the class. The kids stared at her, wide-eyed and uncomprehending. It wasn’t that complicated a story, and he thought April had done some nice voice acting with it, but little kids could be hard to predict. She sighed.
Finally, a little boy lifted his hand. “Miss April?”
“Can I go to the bathroom?”
She sighed again, nodding. “Yes. Take the pass and remember, it is just to the left of the classroom. No wandering off.”
“Yes, Miss April.”
She watched him go and looked down at the book. “So… do we need to read this again? Did you understand the story? Do you know what happens to the princess?”
She was met with twenty or so blank stares again, and she looked so tired that Clay couldn’t really help what he did next. He raised his hand. “Miss April?”
She was so exhausted that she hadn’t even noticed him. Poor April. He smiled at her. “I think that you are very, very pretty.”
April’s face went red—whether from embarrassment at one of her students calling her pretty or because she’d realized it was him and gotten very angry, he didn’t know—but she took a deliberately slow breath. “Come here for a moment, would you?”
He wasn’t sure about her tone, but he walked forward anyway. “Do you want me to go? I don’t really want to go. I like watching you teach. Even though you’re very tired. You told me not to come, I know, but I’m here, and I—”
“You’re not supposed to be in my classroom. You’re not a part of this class—”
“I’m more fun than they are, and I love you,” he pointed out helpfully, getting a groan from her. “I wouldn’t mind hearing the book again. Please?”
“Go. Go get your… older brother and tell him that I want to speak with him.”
“And possibly hurt him?”
“Orey,” she almost snapped, yet managing to stay remarkably calm about the whole thing. “Go get Clayton.”
He gave her a smile. Even though she wasn’t all that happy with him, at least she hadn’t completely kicked him out. He left the room, found a good out of the way spot that no one would see and no cameras would catch and shifted into his normal self.
He poked his head inside the classroom. “Hello, love of my life. You wanted to see me?”
She pointed to the equivalent of the dunce chair, but at this point, nothing could really bother him. “Yes, I did want to talk to you. You know that you—and Orey—are not supposed to be here. You are not supposed to be anywhere near here while I am teaching. You don’t listen to a word I say, do you?”
“I do listen. I tried to stay very far away just like I should. Only I couldn’t stand to be far away from you for one minute longer, so I came here.”
“Clayton, you cannot get out of this by being charming. I’m not going to forget what you did. It hasn’t even been that long since you’ve seen me—”
“Over a week since we did anything that involved actual visual contact, longer than that for any kind of physical, and talking on the phone three days ago is not enough. I know you’re busy. I thought I’d be helpful and come to you,” he interrupted. She frowned, and he left the dunce chair to massage the back of her neck. She was very tense. “Between the lessons and the exams and keeping the idiot occupied, you’ve been so busy there’s no time for you to relax—and so no time for me.”
She made a little moan, then grabbed his hands. “Stop that. You can’t be here. You have to go. Even if you missed me, there are rules. Protocols. You didn’t even check in at the front office, did you?”
“Yes, I did. I checked in as myself—I guess I should have said ‘Orey,’ too, but I forgot.”
He cut her off with a kiss. Most of her kids started clapping, a few of them gagging and making other noises of disgust. She pulled back, shaking her head as she whispered, “I’m going to kill you.”
“No, you love me. I know you do,” he said, touching her face with a smile. He turned to the kids. “I should stop distracting your teacher, huh?”
More stories! Kiss her again! No! Ew! Don’t kiss her! Are you her husband? Can you do anything cool? Can we see something neat? What do you do? Are you a teacher? All the kids started talking at once until April cleared her throat loudly, giving Clay a dirty look. The kids quieted down.
He gave her an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. I really didn’t come here to cause trouble. I should go, right? I’ll have to try and be the supportive one in a different way. Can’t cook, though. I’ll burn your apartment down, but we could go out—well, to the diner, but you have to be sick of that. You must hate not having a normal guy, right?”
“I love you just the way you are, superhero or not,” she told him with a smile. “It was kind of sweet—in a way that only you seem to be able to do—that you came here today.”
“You’re a superhero? Can we see? What’s your power?”
He looked at the kids. “It is—get this, the lamest power in the universe. But… If you’re very good for Miss April, I can show you my little trick. My… brother and I can pull off something that looks almost like… magic.”
“Yep. Still, if you want to see it, you will have to be very good for my future wife, okay?”
“How is it magic?”
“I can turn myself into him.”
“Oh, yes way. I can prove it,” Clayton insisted. He wrapped his arms around April. “Still, if you want to see that, you’ll have to wait for the end of class.”
April looked up at him. “Are you sure you want to do that? Really sure? Because you’ve always been all protective and refused to show people what you could do before.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay with it. They’re kids. They’ll think it’s a trick, not a superpower, and hey, at least then this ability is good for something. I can entertain little kids. Maybe that can be my career when I quit the CIA.”
She shook her head. “If you dress up like a clown, I am not marrying you.”
“You hate clowns that much?”
“You have no idea.”
“Show us! Show us!”
Clayton took the dunce chair out and stepped up on it, making a pose and taking a bow. The kids giggled. April groaned. Clay smiled at her. This would be okay. He’d already had his random shift for the day—or he wouldn’t have dared go into her classroom—and he could handle this. The kids would enjoy it, and he’d actually have a moment where he got to use his powers for something other than useless spying or unintentional humiliation. He wanted some good memories of using his power.
He got off the chair and walked around it a few times, making himself a little dizzy as he did. He stopped, waved goodbye to them, and ducked behind the chair, changing into the form he’d used before.
He climbed back onto the chair, waiting.
The kids stared at him.
“Okay, okay, so it’s not the telephone booth change of Superman, but—”
The class started clapping. He smiled, looking over at April. She smiled back at him. The bell rang, and the kids ran to get their backpacks and head for their buses or their parents. He watched them leave contentedly.
She crossed over and put a hand on his shoulder. “Come with me, little one.”
He made a face, but he was stuck in this form for at least twenty more minutes, so he couldn’t really argue about it. “Can we go get ice cream sundaes with gummy bears now?”
“What? You like gummy bears, too.”
“That’s not the point.”