So here’s the start, the beginning of the story of how I became more of a superhero.
Like everything in my life, it happened more or less by accident. Or horrible mishap. That might be a better description of what happened to me. What always happened to me.
I have to say, in the grand scheme of things that has gone right in my life and what’s gone wrong… I’ve got gummy bears and April—and that’s pretty much it.
Kind of sad, really.
But I’m a superhero, right? Not supposed to have an easy life? Of course, if I hadn’t fought against my power for so long, things would probably have gone better for me…
“Can you hear me?”
“Yes, Larabee, and yes, it is still creepy. I really wish we could have had April do this and be the voice in my ear and not you,” Clayton muttered, shaking his head. He didn’t like this. He would feel a lot better about it if he had April with him—well, not with him, but sort of… He sighed. He was really way too dependent on her. She was the one who was actually good at this stuff, stronger and everything. He wasn’t going to deny that. He knew who the real hero was. Her.
“You know, if you were a field agent like you used to think you’d want to be, you probably would not have a female handler, just so you know. It would be a man’s voice in your ear, so there,” Larabee said, grumbling a little. “Oh, and you know we can’t just sneak her in here. She can’t be here. Her presence would ruin everything. So you have to be stuck with me. Sorry.”
“You ready? Your boss is in his office, meeting with someone. Now’s the time to see if there’s anything worth learning,” Larabee said, and Clayton took a deep breath. He jumped up and pulled himself as much into the ventilation shaft as he could before shifting into a child to make it easier to move around.
“Step one… complete.”
“This is so cool, don’t you think? You’re finally doing it! The superhero in action!”
“Larabee,” Clayton began, not liking the annoying way that his little kid voice echoed against the metal of the ventilation shaft. He sounded even younger than he’d shifted into, and louder, too. “I am not a superhero here. Sorry to burst your bubble, but heroes—I’m not one of them, ability or not. You’d be a better hero than me. April would be even better.”
“You know, everything with you these days is I’m not a hero and April’s so wonderful. Why don’t you just marry her, then?”
“Well, actually… We sort of talked about it, but she said spying first.”
“That’s why you’re doing this?” Larabee demanded. “You’re finally going to use your abilities and powers because April told you to? Because of a girl?”
“I am, at heart, a very normal guy. Bit weak, bit of a loser, but still, fairly normal. Why wouldn’t I do this for a girl?” Clayton asked. “I love her. Uh. Wow. I didn’t just say that, did I? Oh. Um, don’t say anything to her. I haven’t—I need to tell her first. I haven’t, and I should.”
“Yeah, you should. Are you at the junction yet? You need to take a left now.”
Clayton took the turn, trying not to think about how small of a space he was really in. If he shifted, he could actually get stuck here, and he wasn’t really fat or anything. They weren’t meant for men to be crawling around in, though, that was for sure. “How much further to the office?”
“You should be coming up on it any second now. On the right this time. Can you see it?”
“I think so,” he agreed, stopping near the vent shaft. He looked down into the office. The suit was pacing the room, his arms folded behind him.
“What do you see?”
“Larabee, shut up,” Clayton hissed, looking down at his hands as they started to tingle. Not now, he thought. Not now. Why did it have to be now? He supposed that it was probably the stress. He’d finally gotten to this point, and now—now he was going to shift and be stuck for at least twenty minutes. Great.
“Have you figured out what to do with him yet?”
The suit shook his head. “That’s hard to say. He could be an asset. It’s too soon to know. We have to wait and see what develops.”
Clayton shifted, his head smacking against the side of the ventilation shaft with a curse. That had hurt. A lot. His head spun. Had he really hit it that hard? Was that even possible in this small space?
He reached up to touch his head, not wanting to answer Larabee at the moment. Clay felt like an idiot, and he hadn’t even learned anything useful. He’d just given himself a very bad headache. He tried to adjust his position and get comfortable again, since he was going to be here for a while.
“…Gone rogue,” the other man in the suit’s office was saying. “It’s not good for anyone.”
“The program was shut down years ago. Nothing like that exists anymore.”
“Yeah, that’s what they always say, isn’t it?”