- A Serialized Novel -

This isn't a superpower. It's a curse.

Like I said, it was a very brief stint as a police informant. I would have liked it to have gone on longer, but that wasn’t really possible. Larabee tried to convince me that I was overreacting, but I didn’t think I was.

I was going to have to find a different way of putting my ability to use. It wasn’t going to be easy.

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“Come on, Clayton, calm down.”

“Calm down? Not only did I get my butt kicked—some superhero I am, but I also ended up showing him what I could do. He saw it. He knows. He will be hunting all of those people; he will be looking for me. I just made everyone’s life worse out on the street. I did that. Now he’ll harass them looking for me, and they won’t be able to tell him anything because I’m not really one of them. I exploited what they were, but I wasn’t one of them and…”

“Well, I think you have the guilt complex of a superhero, at least,” Larabee said, setting a cup of tea in front of him. Clay looked at it and back at his roommate. He didn’t know what to make of the concept of… tea. It was so not Larabee. Not the situation. Maybe it should be something stronger. Or some kind of energy drink or coffee because it was Larabee. “You know you do, right?”

“Not that long ago, you were telling me I was acting too evil to be a superhero.”

“Even you acknowledge that you were kind of… cruel when it came to April and the whole booth thing. It was rather rotten of you, after all. And using one of your little kid forms to steal from her? That was rather low.”

“I know.”

“Still, I’m not sure you can really take the blame for all of this. I think you’re probably overreacting a bit here. Just because one jerk saw you shift ages doesn’t mean that it’s all over. You can try again. He only saw two forms,” Larabee began. He sat down with a glass and poured Mountain Dew into it. “You can go back in one of the others.”

“No, I can’t. This guy knows I can change. He’ll look for my face, and even if the ages are different, the face changes a little, but not the whole thing. There is a resemblance. Even though April didn’t believe me, she still saw it. I can’t do that. I need to end the whole thing. Now.”

Larabee shook his head. “I hate to hear that. It was making you happy, and it’s a shame if you have to give it up.”

“I’ll find another way to be helpful. I think—I hope I at least made up for what I did to April. Not that she ever acknowledged that card I sent her, and I doubt that she’ll ever forgive me beyond that. It’s not like she’ll ever know, but at least I did something.”

“Yeah. You helped the police with quite a few crimes, but you’re not meant for a neighborhood watch anyway. I can see you being the ultimate spy, you know. You’ve already got some clearance, but you need more training. And gear. I’ve got ideas for more gear.”

“That’s great, Larabee, but I think I’m going to go crawl into my bed and try and sleep off the pain in my back from him smacking me into the wall. I’m not sure why the pain is still there, but I don’t care. Bed sounds good right about now.”

“Okay, fine, but tomorrow, we are signing you up for self-defense classes.”

Clay nodded. He needed them anyway. He wasn’t going to object.

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“Well, here we are.”

“Are you kidding me? What am I, the kid that gets pounded in The Karate Kid?”
“The new one or the old one?”

“Old one. Come on, you actually watched the remake?” Clayton demanded, looking over at him and shaking his head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Remakes are just… wrong. Ninety-five percent of the time at the very least. I can’t even think of one that I actually enjoyed more than the original. I’ll keep thinking, but I’m still not getting anywhere with that.”

“I have a lot of time on my hands in the lab. I use things for background noise. It helps.”
“You used that movie for background noise?”

“Better than a porno.”

“I don’t even want to know. I’m not going in there. They’ll kick me out—after they beat me to a pulp. Did you not see any of the movies?”

“That’s if you try and steal the guy from the other dojo’s girl, remember?”

“Yeah, well, that’s not going to happen because I’ve sworn off dating—”

“I could try talking to April for you—”

“—for the rest of my life, and I’m not even going to start on that whole April thing. Let that go,” Clayton insisted. Larabee opened the dojo’s door and shoved him inside. Clay fell on the floor, and the whole class looked over at him.

The sensei shook his head. “That one will not be taught.”

Clay pointed at Larabee. “He’s paying.”

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