It occurs to me now that I should have asked those kids in April’s class for better superhero names. They had far better imaginations than I ever did. They could have come up with something great for me and my pathetic power.
They did draw some very amusing pictures, after all. Talented little pipsqueaks.
“It really is a shame that you can’t fly,” April observed, looking at the drawing with a smile. She set it down on the table, passing it over to Clayton. He shook his head as he looked at it. He had a cape and could fly, and he was carrying her with him. At least, that was what he thought the drawing was. It was kind of hard to tell with the crayons and shaky lines and all.
“These are cute, but they’re all wrong,” Clayton said, picking up a fry and chewing on it for a moment before he gave in to April’s dark look and explained. “It’s not that I’m judging their artistry. I just can’t do any of that stuff, and you’re the real hero, so…”
“You always say that, but I don’t think that’s true.”
“I love this one,” Larabee interrupted, lifting up the paper so that they could all see it. “This is the best picture ever. I could make you a costume just like that.”
“No thank you. I don’t need a costume. It’s not necessary. I am not going to be a hero, and I’m only going to entertain kids with my abilities every now and again. I just spy on people, remember? Costumes are not going to work for that. I can’t find a conspiracy dressed like a pinata.”
“That’s true, but you know that you are more than just a spy, and the kids didn’t just see you as entertainment. They like you better than they do me,” April told him. “And they really want to believe that you can do any of these wonderful things.”
He sighed. “They’re kids. They don’t know any better. They can believe in heroes—in superheroes—but I know that’s not what I am. I’ve tried to work with what I am, and I wanted to be a hero. I’m just… not. Very not. I’m more of a coward at heart, someone who complains rather than steps up, and you stop me from that and make me think, but without that, I’d still be at home moping. And as far as my power goes… I’d rather not have it. I would be happy with a simple life—as long as it was with you, April.”
She smiled, but then she shook her head. “I think you’d be happier if you were a hero.”
“Maybe,” he agreed slowly, thinking of all those old childhood dreams of his. He’d wanted so desperately to be a hero, wanted powers and was going to save the world. Now, though, all he had was a conspiracy he couldn’t sort out and a crazy friend who kept wanting him to wear spandex and a woman he loved but was way too dependent on. “I don’t care about that. As long as I’ve got you, I’ll be okay.”
She started to say something else, but he cut her off with a kiss.
Larabee looked at them. “When are you two getting married? What date was that again?”
April sighed. “I’ve finished up all the exams and certifications, and I’m just about done with my student teaching, so I’ve almost got my degree and license—I will need to go back to school to finish up my master’s, but I’ll work a few years first. Unless it’s impossible to get a job without one, which in this market is entirely possible. Still… After I graduate, I think I’ll finally be able to think about the wedding for a change.”
“I’m telling you—eloping is easy. I don’t need a big ceremony. I have no friends, remember? But I guess I’m just too distracting for you to teach and have me around, but—”
“That is not what I said or what I meant,” she said, covering his mouth with her fingers. “Don’t think I don’t want you around. I just don’t know how to adjust to the idea of marriage, living together, and handle what I’m already doing. It’s going to be hard enough for both of us and handle that first year without me being a nutcase over classwork and lessons and tests and certifications. That was the only reason I wanted to wait. Not because I don’t love you or because I don’t want to be with you. I just want it to work, and we have enough problems to deal without me being so stressed.”
“You mean you can’t be stressed because I bring so much stress to the relationship in the first place.”
“Clayton, don’t. Are you trying to pick a fight with me now?”
“No, I’m just saying that it’s uneven between us. You have to be the responsible grown up one, and you’re always supporting me, and where is that from me? I think I’ve done it once and that’s because I forced you to talk about your parents.”
She lifted up the drawings. “What do you think this is, Clayton? You may have been told to stay away, but you didn’t. You came, and you helped me when I didn’t even know how much I needed it. And you made the kids so happy. They can’t stop talking about you—even if you couldn’t even do what you can, you’d be a hero to them. You’re a hero to me. Accept that.”
“And you could be that to everyone if you’d only let me make you a costume.”
“I tell you what, Larabee, make the kids each a costume. They’d love that.”
“Yeah? Cool. I’m so going to do that. It’s going to be amazing,” Larabee said, reaching for the drawings as he got up, almost running out of the diner in his hurry to get back to his lab.
Clayton shook his head. “I do not understand him and the spandex. It’s really unnatural.”
“Forget about Larabee and the spandex.”
“Right. Like that’s easy to do.”
“Oh, I can make it easy,” April told Clay, pulling him in for a kiss.