Descendants Giant-sized #2 – After-Party

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series The Descendants Vol 6: Returns and Departures

(Part 2)
Here you go sweetie, drink this.” Lily held out a cup to Kim before sitting down next to her.
Despite the fact that she’d stopped crying, Kim still wasn’t in good shape. She’d just been sitting on the couch, flinching at every loud noise. Her hair, once up in a neat ball to go with her kabuki costume had come undone, and her white make-up was streaky from tears.
She took the cup and sipped at it. Then she gave Lily a look.
And rum.” Lily amended. “Mostly rum. I figured you’d need it. Remember, I’ve been there already. Remember that time with freaky Liz and the Mauler? And then stupid Alloy had to go and total my car in ways no car’s ever been totaled? I broke into Daddy’s scotch that night.”
After making herself comfortable on the couch, she produced some alcohol pads from her clutch and busied herself cleaning off Kim’s make-up. “It’s okay now though. Those guys are all going jail and as it turns out, they didn’t even want us.
Kim was silent for a moment, then tipped back the whole cup of punch-laced rum. The burning in her throat was a good an excuse as any not to talk as she gathered her thoughts. Finally, she took a breath and spoke. “Lily, how are you not freaking out right now?”
Lily shrugged. “Like I said, they weren’t here for us.”
But they still could have shot you for mouthing off like that.”
Pssh. I’m worth way more alive than dead. Besides, Callie was right there the whole time. All she needed was an opening and she could have taken them all out.”
And you were giving her that opening?” Kim asked, sounding hopeful.
Lily looked off to the side. “Yes?”
In retrospect, that sounded a lot better than the idea she’d initially had that she could just buy off what she thought at the time were simple robbers. Up until that night, she’d been firmly of the mind that being as rich as her (or rather, as her parents) was just as good for stopping crime as any power.
No amount of money wold have thrown that one lady in the lake, lighting-bolted that other guy, or punched more than half a dozen people unconscious in under tow minutes. It probably wouldn’t get her a little fire pet like Kaine’s sister’s friend had either, but she was going to look into that one.
When she looked back at Kim, she saw that money also didn’t buy lying skill either.
Okay, fine. I got carried away. I mean seriously; how dare they turn down a sweet payday just so they can continue to be assholes! Do we not still live in capitalism? Come to think of it, I bet they’re socialist—that would explain things…”
Kim, who had also failed to pay attention in both History and Civics classes, nodded.
Not only that, but he kept insulting me and Callie. You know I can’t let some loser crack on me and my girls.”
Lily, he had a gun.” Kim pointed out.
So? Just because you’re armed doesn’t give you an excuse. Especially when Callie could and did hand his friends their asses at mach five.”
Lily.” Callie’s voice preceded the girl glomping onto Lily from behind and wrapping her in a tight hug. “Please never do that again.”
What?” Lily asked, “It worked, right? All bad guys defeated and the whole party talking about how I took one down—I should buy stock in that lipstick stun gun company, by the way.”
Callie gave a small groan and let Lily go, leaning back heavily on the couch. Her fingers massaged the space between her eyes where a phantom headache was forming. “No, Lily. I mean it sort of worked, but you got lucky. Like so, so lucky. If Warrick’s sister hadn’t done what she did…”
Which I straight predicted.” said Lily.
Lily…” Callie said, looking over to where the three Liedecker Institute girls had claimed the stairs. Maya looked to be calming down, mostly focusing on her fireling, which was standing on her knee, doing a little dance. “They’re just kids. Not everyone with powers is a prelate—I wasn’t a prelate… until you guys gave me the confidence to try.”
If the point had reached Lily, there was something to be desired in the translation to Lily-ese. “So… really I probably gave them the push to become prelates. Wow, they really need me to be their agent now.”
Callie didn’t know what came over her. One some level, it was the same surge of panic that caused her to put together the Irregulars against Inexorable. Only somehow, this felt like it took more courage than even facing down the unstoppable.
Her hands grasped Lily’s shoulders and she turned the other girl forcibly to face her. “Lily. You are not getting it. You didn’t give them a push to be heroes, you gave a man with a gun a push to point it at them. High school kids, Lily.
They could have been killed. It’s a miracle they weren’t. I could have been killed when you let them know who I was—most prelates have a secret identity And Lily, you could have been killed because you kept egging that guy on.”
She swallowed, the burst of adrenaline wearing off. “Now, me? I… I’ve sort of accepted that people are going to try to kill me. But those girls, and you? You haven’t.”
But you would have saved us.” Kim supplied for a speechless Lily.
Callie looked at both of them and was shocked at what she saw. Yes, they supported her, both with who she was and with the path of the hero she’d chosen. But now they were looking at her not with the love and support of friends, but with the hopeful gaze of people who had… faith in her. Faith that she would be there for them. That she would protect them.
It made the truth all the more difficult to admit.
She looked from Kim to Lily and back again. Maybe she should wait until all of them were together again at the apartment to say what was on her mind. But then, she might lose her resolve.
No, I wouldn’t have.” She admitted. “I know you think I’m like this incredibly powerful person who can do anything because of my powers, but I’m.. not. Maybe I can outrun a bullet. I’ve never tried, but if I can, I would still need to get a running start at it. It’s like a sports car; you don’t instantly jump to sixty, you have to rev up to it.
Lily, when you were saying all those things, I was on the ground, on my stomach. T man shot you, there would have been nothing could do…” She forced herself not to shiver at the thought, “But watch.”
Stunned silence followed and Lily paled. Kim looked like she was going to throw up.
Oh my god…” Lily said, her usual confidence and bravado gone. “I knew that too. You’ve explained your powers to me like a hundred times for press releases. How did I not think of that?”
It was a pretty intense situation.” said Callie. The look on her friend’s face made her wish she hadn’t said anything. “You can’t be expected to—“
I almost got you killed.” The reality finally hit Lily. She wrung her hands, gaze set in the middle distance.
You almost got a lot of people killed.” Kay had heard snippets of the conversation in passing and was now leaning over the back of the couch.
Callie gave her a savage look. “Kay. Don’t.”
No, she’s gotta hear this.” said Kay. “Because that was way out of line even for Lily. And believe me, she’s getting off lucky hearing it from me and not from Warrick. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, Lil; he’s a dork and a little guy, but you dimed his sister out to gun-wielding maniacs. If he didn’t have other things on his mind, I think you might get to see just how dangerous a little guy can be.”
Lily exploded, rounding on the other girl. “Look, I’m sorry okay?! I wasn’t thinking. Well, I thought… but I was wrong. I don’t exactly feel good about it.”
Some of the old Lily had returned, she raised her chin and looked down her nose at the other girl, daring her to retort like she’d done to so many people in high school.
But Kay exploded right back. It even sounded to the three girls that her voice gained a level of demonic reverb that had to be in their imagination. “Oh? You feel bad? You feel bad? Well too bad, because that’s not good enough!
You’re the one that set herself up as Callie’s agent and outfitter and all this stuff, but you know nothing about the world she’s part of now. I…” She faltered a moment, “Follow Descendants stuff online all the time and the last thing thee people need is a sidekick stirring up more trouble for them. Your job is to help Callie. You should be doing… doing research and covering for her when she has to run off suddenly and even though she doesn’t have a secret ID, it’s your job not to draw extra goddamn attention to her.”
Kay was leaning far over the couch now, almost falling on top of Lily. “It’s not about you, Lily. It’s not even really about Callie. It’s about the people she helps and how she can get to be the best she can at doing that. As far as I can tell, you’re not doing that; you’re just holding her back.”
The words made Lily’s back go straight Her fists clenched in front of her as if she wanted nothing more than to punch the other girl in the face. She wanted to. Her weapon of choice was the snide remark, but for that kind of accusation, she was willing to make an exception.
Whoa,what’s going on her?” It was Lisa with JC in tow, both carrying a garbage bag. “Kay, I thought we agreed to play nice with Lily.”
That was before all the shit happened tonight.” Kay said, throwing another cold glare at Lily.
Lily threw her own at Lisa. “You don’t have to ‘play nice’ with me. I’ve got my own real friends, I don’t need the geeks and rejects making nice to be polite.” She stood up from the couch, pretending to dust herself off as if the couch had been infected with something. “And I don’t need lessons on being a ‘sidekick’. What kind of child talks that way anyway? As if reading about prelates makes you an expert on them.”
That made Lisa glance aside to Kay.
I was mad.” Kay muttered.
Satisfied that the invisible taint was gone, Lily took her keys out of her clutch and gave them to Callie, feigning confidence. “Callie, I know they’re your friends and all, but they’re not mine. You and Kim can stay as long as you want, but I’m out of here.”
Callie looked at the keys in shock. “Your car? Lily, you never let anyone drive your car.”
I trust you.” Lily said vaguely and turned toward the door.
But…” Callie looked at Lisa and Kay for help and found confusion from the former and a lack of sympathy in the latter. She started to get up.
Don’t follow me.” Lily said over her shoulder, having anticipated what her friend would do. “I’m just going for a walk, then I’ll take a pod home.”
The front door to Freeland House didn’t slam in a satisfactory manner. Thanks to the abuse it suffered earlier, it rebounded off the frame with a dull thump and swung slowly open again.
Lily spared it a hateful look for ruining her drama before stepping off the porch. The front walk was shrouded in police tape, forcing her to take a circuitous route around to the stairs. That only put her into a more foul mood.
Sidekick. That was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard. It was like calling prelates ‘superheroes’; a juvenile thing that geeks like Kaine did to make it seem like real life was imitating their stupid comics, movies and TV shows. Just because there were people with supernatural powers who dressed in costumes, had secret identities and fought criminals with their own powers…
She stopped because she didn’t like where that was going. Real life really did seem to be taking a turn for strange.
Once upon a time, when she’d been friends with everyone in her class, like Tink and Lisa, she’d been into that sort of thing too. Somewhere on her personal cloud server, she still had the original thirty issue run of Sequencer, her favorite heroine. She might not be able to recite every word from the comics, but she did know a bit about the mechanics.
And she was not a sidekick, thank you very much. If there was a Vamanos comic, she would be a benefactor, emotional support…
The comic relief idiot who kept getting the heroine in trouble because she had a big mouth and not enough common sense.
That hit her just as she reached the top of the stairs and froze her in her tracks. Kay had gotten her so riled up, she’d forgotten why she was being berated in the first place: because she deserved to be berated.
Callie, being Callie, was too nice and cared about her too much to excoriate her over what she’d done, but she really should have. That’s where Kay came in and, God, she was right. If things hadn’t gone just right and the Liedecker Institute girls hadn’t been as surprisingly competent as they were, a lot of people would have died all because she shot her mouth off.
Those girls—teenaged girls—could have been killed. She could have died herself. Callie could have died.
Her best friend, who she was so proud of, who she had to admit she was starting to look up to for the risks she took for other people, might have gotten a bullet between the eyes all because Lily didn’t have a filter between brain and mouth.
That sobering thought. Made her slump against the railing.
She’d tried to be a good agent and got told that she was a bad person. She tried to be a good friend (at this she mentally sighed at the reality of her situation) and sidekick, and she learned that she was apparently an idiot. Lately, it seemed like life was giving her a series of reality checks without telling her how to fix anything.
What was the point of any of it if everything she did to make thing better turned into a disaster?
She took a long, shaky breath. The air was cool and crisp and laced with the scent of oranges. She didn’t feel like going for a walk anymore. All that would accomplish would be making her think and at the moment, all she could think about was how screwed up her life was.
Didn’t she have a bank account specifically so she wouldn’t have to be screwed up? People like her shouldn’t have problems like this. Then again, people like her weren’t (sigh) sidekicks either.
Instead of walking to the pod station, she decided to call a cab to take her home where she could distract herself with television and music. Except when she reached for her palmtop at her hip, she found nothing. It probably came off her in the panic earlier.
She cast a rueful glance back at Freeland House. No way in hell was she walking back in there now.
Great.” She muttered, “Looks like I’m walking whether I like it or not.”

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  1. Oh the laughter I have at Amy’s last comment…

  2. Ultra-high tech, ultra-secure, and last year when their decommissioning was declassified: ultra secret.”
    until last year?

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