Issue #19: All Girls Want Bad Boys

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 2: Magic and Machines

Attraction; it is the primary agent of natural selection among higher mammals. Hardier than their lesser cousins, these creatures cannot simply rely on those that are unfit to pass on their genes to simply die out. Instead, they rely on a complex system of biochemical responses to ensure that the most fit and most beneficial genes are selected on a personal level.

Humans tend to loathe comparing themselves to animals, even the stately primate, in all matters with the distinct exception of when it comes to attraction and passion. ‘Animal magnetism’, after all isn’t an incidental phrase. When it comes to procreation, humans will insist that they’re nothing but mammals and that they will pursue such in a manner best recorded in nature films.

This entire mentality is rooted in mammalian social interactions. Humans look to lions and wolves and other social animals where strength and aggression in males guarantees more mates and translate such into their own popular culture. The idea perpetuated by culture and by many embittered and introverted males is that it is a hard wired imperative in the female of the species to seek out the crude and aggressive.

But the truth is that when it comes to attraction and passion, we are an entirely different kind of animal.


“Where is he?!” Kay demanded of no one in particular. She was lying on her back, staring up at the rigging that hung over the auditorium stage. The other members of Snackrifice, sans Adel were also on stage with Cyn sitting in the empty auditorium seating. Her hair color for the day was a light blue usually reserved for carnival cotton candy.

“He’s never late like this.” Juniper said, letting her legs dangle off the stage whilst sitting in the heat of a spotlight. “Do you think he’s okay?”

“He won’t be if it turns out he blew off practice.” Kay intoned. “We’ve only got the place ‘til seven after all and we’re going to need to get a lot better if I’m going to convince AP Fairbanks to let us play prom.”

“About that…” Lisa said. “We’re playing the Dungeon pretty regularly now and we’ve been hired for that party at Big Run Lake – do we really have to play prom?”

Kay raised her head to give her friend an irritated look. “Do we have to—why wouldn’t we? We rock!”

“Well, it’s just that we played the Valentine’s dance and we missed the Sadie Hawkins dance because we were playing McMurray’s.” Lisa said, “I kind of hoped that I’d get to go to Junior prom with my boyfriend.”

Juniper nodded. “Don’t get me wrong, Kay, I love being in the band, but it would be nice to just go to a dance for a change instead of being the entertainment.”

Kay made a fake scoffing noise. “Oh look the girls with boyfriends are turning against me. No concept of sacrifice I tells ya.”

“Kay…” Lisa chided her friend.

Rolling over and getting to her feet, Kay dusted herself off. “Yeah, you guys are right; we are just a high school band after all.” She shrugged, “It’s all just for fun… you know until I get a band with talent.” With that, she stuck her tongue out at Lisa.

“Well, actually, Adel isn’t my boyfriend… yet.” Juniper said, completely missing the intervening parts of the conversation.

“That’s as close as Mr. Cardboard is going to get, Jun.” Cyn clucked sympathetically. “I mean we’ve done everything. JC and Warrick even took him to that sports bar Monday to try and get him out of his shell.”

Lisa nodded, “Yeah, sorry Juniper, but I don’t think there’s much of a future with him. He’s just not interested. And by that, I mean not interested in anything. Not you specifically. The only time he shows any emotion is when he’s drumming, really.”

“And he won’t be doing that anymore if he doesn’t get his butt in her right—“Kay was interrupted by the sound of the rears doors of the auditorium opening. “Speak of the devil.”

“You were talking about me?” Tink asked, pulling a dolly loaded down with boxes in the doors behind her. She had two coils of insulated wire draped over her shoulders and what looked like a tackle box in her free hand.

“No.” Kay said, “We’re waiting for Adel so we could practice.”

“I didn’t even know you guys were in here.” Tink shrugged, nearly unbalancing the coils around her neck. “Don’t mind me; I’m setting up the imaging machinery for the drama department.”

“I didn’t know you took drama.” Lisa said, picking up her bass to tune it.

Tink shook her head. “I don’t. But no one in drama this year wants to be the techie, so AP Fairbanks is paying me to do it. Pretty sweet gig, actually; twenty dollars an hour for two hours a day after school. Minimum wage, but I would have done it for free.”

“You know, this really isn’t like him.” Juniper said out of the blue.

“Like who?” Tink asked, hauling the dolly up the ramp off to the side of the stage.

“Adel.” Cyn offered. “She’s in mid-pine, don’t mind her.” She smirked seeing Juniper blush.

“Oh.” Tink said after a long pause, and then something sprang to mind. “Oh, speaking of pining, have you talked to Warrick about last night?”

“No.” Cyn shrugged. Normally, she’d make it a point to be unhelpful on that point, but the truth was unhelpful enough. “He came right home and went right to his room. I figured he was still sulking about Lisa railroading him into going with JC and Adel to the Shortstop.”

“He really doesn’t like sports.” Juniper added. “I thought he’d at least like baseball though. Who doesn’t like baseball? It’s America’s past time.”

“Like a hundred years ago.” Kay said. “Hockey’s the wave of the future. We should have gotten them hockey tickets; nothing makes men bond more than watching other men beat the crap out of each other.”

“It’s June, Kay.” Lisa said.

“Boxing, then. Or stunt course. Something involving personal injury. Guys like that stuff.”

“That’s probably why.” Tink said, thoughtfully.

“Er…what happened?” Cyn asked, curiosity overriding her common sense.

Tink shrugged the cables off and started rummaging through the top box on the dolly. “Well… last night, we went to the movies and he… kissed me.”

Lisa snorted, affecting a faux southern accent. “Well have mercy, yo’ reputation is sho’lee ruined.” Snapping back to her normal voice, she continued, “Seriously, this isn’t like the turn of the century when everyone was crazy repressed. What’s the big deal?”

Tink’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not a prude and… and well we have kissed before. But this… it wasn’t right. I mean there’s a kiss, there’s a kiss and there’s the kind of thing you don’t want any guy ever doing. This was option ‘c’.

“I know what you mean.” Juniper said, nodding sagely. The others paused to give her confused looks. “What? I’ve had other boyfriends before, you know. And just so you know, I didn’t like it either.”

“And now I’m going to nee to bleach my brain.” Cyn declared, wondering if she could simply self erase that part of her mind. She simply couldn’t picture Juniper as anything more than the annoyingly perky china doll that lived down the hall.

“Anyway,” Tink continued, finally locating the electrical tape in the box. “I told him off and he just stormed out of the theatre. He hasn’t talked to me all day.”

“That doesn’t sound like Warrick at all.” Juniper proclaimed the obvious.

“Unless JC’s been getting to him.” Lisa said ruefully. “Every once in a while, he decides to take the bad boy angle. It annoys the hell out of me and I’m sure he knows it.”

“Even JC wouldn’t get all pissy about it though.” Kay said. “Kaine must have been watching too many movies.”

“I’d like to know what’s going on in any case.” Tink said, unrolling a length of cable. “I’ve had a lot of fun with him and I’d hate to think he’s really a prick underneath it all.”

“Now that’s crazy.” Cyn jumped to her friend’s defense. “He may get delusions of grandeur sometimes and not get the point a lot of the time, but he’s a good guy and he’s certainly not a perv.” She crossed her arms. “The day Warrick Kaine becomes a sex fiend is the day I join Lilly’s little conserve cult.”

“I know what happened.” Tink said, “I’m just hoping there’s a good explanation.”

“There is.” Juniper said, “I’m sure of it.”

The door at the back of the auditorium opened to admit the two primary topics of conversation; Warrick and Adel.

Adel was missing his usual baggy clothes, dressed in a close fitting shirt and jeans that showed off his impressive physique and made him look less like the slouching ape he normally seemed to be and more like a four color comic book hero. He even walked with his back straight and a spark of confidence in his eyes.

Warrick was also more cleaned up, but lacked the build to look like anything but the number one. His normally unruly hair was slicked back out of his eyes, which looked over the girls in an unsettlingly predatory manner.

“You’re late!” Kay roared.

“I had things to do.” Adel said offhand, “I’m here now though. Let’s jam.”

Everyone in the auditorium would have been stunned to have heard Adel’s voice from five paces; hearing it echoing in the room was enough to floor them.

“Y-yeah…” Kay said dumbly. “Just get up here.” Walking stiffly, she moved toward her keyboard.

Tink looked up from laying cable and waved to Warrick. He ignored her and took a seat next to Cyn, draping his arm around her. Tink’s eyes narrowed, Cyn’s bucked. “Wait, what?” she managed.

Dropping her tape, Tink crossed the stage and hopped down. It was a struggle to keep her voice steady, she approached her boyfriend. “Warrick, about last night…” she started.

“What’s there to talk about?” Warrick asked, “You’re not in the same place as me; that’s cool. Good luck with the next guy, you know?” The sentiment was dripping with venom.

Tink was dumbstruck for a moment. “Wait. You—look, last night, you were like a totally different guy!”

Warrick shrugged, “Look, a guy’s only going to attend so many university lectures and robot shows without expecting something.” He made a face that was halfway between a sly gaze and a smug frown, “I thought you were a smart girl… guess not in all aspects, huh?”

“The lecture on rare earth metals was your idea!” Tink exploded.

Unfazed, Warrick laughed, “Yeah, right. Something I knew you’d enjoy. Like I’d enjoy all that loser crap.”

Cyn slipped out from under his arm. “What the hell is up with you?” she demanded. “Loser crap? Warrick, you are the king of loser crap! We just hit level 75 on Death Gate together two days ago. You’re planning a trip to Oni-con this summer – You have a Whitecoat bobblehead keyring you bought out of the back of a comic book!”

Ignoring the unfolding drama, Adel came to stand by Juniper who was actually managing to ignore him as she watched the bizarre scene laid before her. He cleared his throat to get her attention.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, her usual warm smile coming out once more. “Hi, Adel.”

“Hey.” He returned, vaulting up onto the stage and taking a seat beside her. “So, you busy after practice?” She shook her head. “Good, we’ll go get something to eat. Golden Wok good with you?”

Juniper’s eyes widened. Adel Miller was asking her out! The boy she’d crushed on for months! But why didn’t it seem right? It probably had something to do with it being totally out of character for him… but who was she to argue?

“Y-yeah, that’s… good.” She nodded.

“The hell he is!” Warrick exploded. Standing up, he breezed past both incensed women to stomp up to Adel. “We’re going to McMurray’s tonight.” He declared.

“Oh, come on.” Adel complained.

Warrick put a hand on the other young man’s shoulder and applied a painful amount of pressure. “You. Have. A car.” Warrick explained. “We need the car to get to McMurray’s. Got me?” his voice became a growl at the end.

Wincing, Adel nodded. “Yeah, I got ya.” He wheezed.

“Good.” Warrick said. “I need to find JC. See you after practice.” He turned to walk away. “Don’t worry, tomorrow’s Friday night, date night. You can take Jun to the Golden Wok then. In fact,” he threw a lecherous wink in Cyn’s direct, “We can double.”

With that, he walked out of the auditorium.

“What in the flying hell was that?!” Cyn pointed at the door.

“That was you becoming Lilly’s new best friend.” Tink said bitterly.

“God damn it.” Adel cursed, pounding a fist onto the stage, “Now I need to go to my brother’s and get his car.”

“Maybe you should call first and make sure it’s okay to borrow it.” Juniper offered.

“Heh. Borrow.” Adel said, sliding off the stage and walking away.

“Whoa, there sparky.” Kay said, “You just got here. We need to practice.”

“No time.” Adel said, slamming the door behind him.

It took more muscles that a person typically has in their face to keep Kay’s jaw from dropping. Luckily, her neck and chest pitched in on the Herculean effort. “Okay, someone either point out the camera or start explaining and I’m not signing any disclaimer.”

“I’ve got work to do.” Tink huffed, heading back to the stage.

“Oh, no you aren’t.” Cyn said, stepping deftly in front of her. “That—“she pointed at the door, “was not Warrick Kaine and the man with the personality and the smoothness; that was certainly not slouchy, sullen, Adel Mills.”

“You’re saying they’re pod people?” Tink asked bitterly.

“Hey, he’s your boyfriend.” Cyn said with an accusatory note, “And I thought you cared about the guy.” She looked over to Juniper. “You too, Princess. Seriously, we’ve got psionics and robots and that crazy…” she didn’t want to call Mauler a demon and reveal how much she knew as an ‘average’ student, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to call it a psionic, “…green… body snatching thing running around and you’re going to just call those mood swings?!”

She struck a pose that wouldn’t be out of place on a comic cover. “Well sisters, I know mood swings and those are mood tilta-whirls and I don’t buy it.” She pointed to Lisa. “Right now, Warrick or as I’ll call him, Kcirraw the Pretender, is on his way to find JC. Are you going to let that happen?”

“Even if that’s the case,” Lisa said, well aware of the distinct possibility after the Mauler case, “What do you suppose we do about it?”

“Follow them.” Cyn said, “Kcirraw the Pretender said they were going to McMurray’s.”

“You’re really sticking your neck out for his benefit, aren’t you?” Tink didn’t let Cyn answer, “But I’m in. Not because I think he deserves a second chance after that, but because I’ve always wanted to play spy. Maybe it’ll make me feel better.”

Juniper hopped off the stage, “If something bad’s happened to Adel, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t do anything.”

Lisa gave Kay an apologetic look. “Practice looks like a bust today.” She nodded to Cyn, “You’ll need a car. I’m in.”

“Actually,” Cyn said with a devilish grin, “I’ve got a better car…”

Series Navigation<< Issue #18: A Tale of Two ChurchesIssue #20: The Irrepressible Spark >>

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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