Issue #53 – The House on Dawson Bay

This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 5: How the World Changes

Part 3

There was hardly a sound in the house as JC fumbled with his thoughts upon discovering Lisa’s secret.

In most things, JC had a reputation for taking things at face value, going with the flow and hoping for the best. He wasn’t known for going to the extremes of emotion, even in times of great stress and heartache. Even on the multiple occasions where he and Lisa broke up, he rarely showed anything outwardly, even to his best friends beyond becoming more quiet and less available to hang out. Quietly internalizing things were he way of dealing with them.

And this was big. Bigger than big; bigger than huge. Epic. Epic was a good word for it. His girlfriend, who he privately admitted was far, far out of his league in terms of hotness and understanding of his general geekery, was moonlighting as a dyed in the wool super heroine.

That was like finding a roll of hundred dollar bills and discovering there was a bar of gold and keys to a brand new sports car in the center. Everyone who told him on a weekly basis in high school that she was too good for him was both right beyond their wildest dreams and fully entitled to kiss his ass.

In the world outside of his mind took somewhere around two who minutes before he made said anything more than ‘whoa’ or other dully surprised noises.

“So.” He said slowly, controlling the tremble of excitement in his voice. “You. Are Occult.” Noticing the tense look on her face, he forced a laugh to let her know it was okay. It didn’t seem to help, so he appealed to the others, who were apparently just as stunned. “Holy shit, can you guys believe this? This is…” Big. Huge. Epic. “…I don’t even know what this is.” He sat back in his seat, looking slightly stunned.

Still in the guise of Occult, Lisa carefully took a seat next to him and put her hand in his. “So you’re… alright with hearing this.”

This time, he didn’t have to force the laugh. “Are you kidding? You’re… you’re Occult! I’m… like having a kind of fanboy attack here, not doing the word thing so well but… This is something like the most amazing day of my life! That…” He paused, leaning into her and peering curiously while still laughing a little in shock. Before she could ask what was wrong, he reached up and flipped back her hood. His laughter stopped as a confused look fell over his face. “Uh… Lisa? Why are you white?”

Lisa couldn’t help but laugh herself. “Because a hood isn’t as good a disguise as you would think. As you so deftly just proved. This is a glamor; a spell that changes the appearance of something.”

JC’s eyes went wide. “Spell? No way, those nuts on PrelateWatch were right?”

“Mmhmm.” She nodded. The wash of relief was getting her giddy.

“Ha!” JC smirked in Warrick’s direction. “And you said it was bullshit. You…”

Though neither stupid, nor unobservant, JC had been in too much of a state of shock and elation to register that the silence of the others was not the same brand of silence as he had been subject too. None of them looked stunned, or surprised. No, they looked satisfied, relieved.

“You… you already knew.” His voice trialed off as he looked around the room. “All of you knew already. Kay, you’re her best friend… I guess I should have expected that. But Cyn, you haven’t said a single smart ass thing, so you must have used all of them up. And War, you would be geeking the hell out right along with me. And Tink hasn’t asked any questions.”

“JC…” Lisa started.

“Don’t look at me, I found out on my own.” Cyn folded her arms.

“But.” Tink jumped in, hoping to salvage things, “It’s still the best day of your life, right? And it can only get better because there’s more.”

Already not knowing what to think about being so far out of the loop, JC didn’t catch the implication and only looked at her askance. She in turn looked to the others.

Warrick coughed, self-conscious. “Alright, here’s the thing; it’s not like we didn’t want to tell you. It’s just that… well this stuff is complicated. A lot more complicated than comic books. I mean people in real life just figure things out a whole lot easier, and there’s not always time to slip away to get into costume and it’s almost impossible that people close to you won’t eventually find out, even if you’re not painfully obvious, like how in Taskforce, Samuel Knox is an Olympic archer and people aren’t supposed to put two and two together that he’s the tech-arrow guy from the duo called Knocked and Loaded? I mean–”

“He’s Alloy, I’m Facsimile.” Cyn cut him off. He glared at her. “What? You were rambling and going all comic book on us.” She looked back to JC. “Want proof?” Without pause, she turned her skin the same golden hue as Facsimile often was.

JC’s gaze went from her to Lisa to Warrick. A great many word came to mind and immediately started to move his lips. He stopped them. An outburst really wasn’t his way.

Warrick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Jay, man, look. It’s nothing personal. Things just sort of happened. And it’s really hard to tell someone this sort of thing, trust me. Don’t blame Lisa for this.”

“Tink, how long have you known?” Okay, so maybe one outburst. But not a loud one, more passive aggressive.

She froze as the onus of the conversation fell heavily upon her. “Not long.” She said slowly. “Since around January.”

“Six months.” JC said and the words sounded like slabs of lead landing on solid ground. He took a long breath and squeezed Lisa’s hand, which he suddenly noticed he was still holding. Then he leaned in and kissed her; just on the cheek; it felt dangerously like cheating to kiss her face while it was glamored.

“I’m… I’m sorry.” He muttered. “This is a lot to… deal with.” He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say there, but that wasn’t it. “I think I need to think about things for a little bit. Alone.” One more squeeze of her hand. God, how he wished it could get rid of that look on her face. It might have been a different face, but he didn’t want Lisa’s face to ever bear that expression, no matter what it looked like.

With that, he picked up his food carton and retreated from the room. In the quiet that followed, they heard the basement door open, close and lock.

Cyn frowned and looked at the others. “Can someone explain to me how this went from the best day of his life to him running away?”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.” Tink said, studying her fingers.

“Not your fault.” Lisa said. “I shouldn’t have waited so long to tell him. He probably thinks it’s because I don’t trust him.”

Warrick put an arm around Tink in hope of making her feel better. “He’ll come around. I’ll make sure of it. Give him some time to cool off and I’ll go down and talk to him. It’s mostly my fault anyway; pressuring you to tell him and all.

Kay had been quiet the entire time, but was quick to be there for her best friend. “Yeah, JC gets over things. It’s what he does best. So what if it took you a while? What matters—and he’ll get this later, I promise you—is that you told him now.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Cyn chimed in. “Whatever reason he has, he’ll be as good as new by sunrise tomorrow.”

***

JC slept down in the basement den that night and the next two as well. Warrick, Lisa and Kay had all spent several hours each talking to the door in hopes of coxing him out, Lisa more than twice as much as the other two.

The first night, they all expected him to stay down there, but by the second, they were well aware that this was beyond mere sulking. He left the basement to use the bathroom and to snatch leftover pizza and soda from the fridge, but only when he was absolutely certain no one was waiting at the door.

Knowing he at least wasn’t in a bad enough funk to starve himself, Lisa sat a vigil the third night, sitting directly across from the door and armed with a thermos of coffee and a palmtop with its web browser pointed to her favorite amateur comedy site.

Kay was the one to rouse her the next morning. As a strange way of showing solidarity with her friend’s morose mood, she deigned to color her hair for the past few days, leaving it a dull black.

After prodding Lisa awake, she remained beside her, crouched low with her elbows resting on her knees. “So, how goes JC Watch 2076?”

Yawning, Lisa pushed the blanket off her so she could stretch. “Failed it looks like. I guess I fell asleep.”

“Boy did you fall.” Kay smirked. “I heard you snoring all the way in the kitchen. Kinda felt bad waking you though; you looked all peaceful snuggled up in that blankie—not like your loudmouthed self at all.”

Lisa managed a very ladylike snort. Exactly why I didn’t bring a blanket. I thought if I was cold and uncomfortable, I’d have an easier time staying awake.” She stretched again. “So failed. Thanks for giving me the blanket though.”

“Wasn’t me.” Kay shrugged before standing. “Probably one of the others. Come on, breakfast awaits and you do not want to miss the twins cutting up potatoes for hashbrowns.” She sidestepped toward the door and added louder, “It’s really cool to watch. They so this whole hibachi chef thing. It’s really amazing.”

Nothing.

Kay sighed and turned back to Lisa, who patted her on the shoulder in thanks for the effort. They walked down the hall to the main room together.

The smell of breakfast was unmistakable. Warrick was at the stove, frying up pieces of swiss steak with a skillet of scrambled eggs with cheese and peppers on another burner. Just as Kay promised, Isp and Osp were stretched across to the counter by the skin, shredding potatoes with flair for their audience.

Tink was sitting on a bar stool at the island counter that spanned the center of the room with her first cup of coffee fro the morning, her attention divided between their antics and her tablet. Cyn was at the table with a huge (and largely empty) bag of chips in her lap. She waved as the pair emerged from the hallway.

“Morning.” Lisa said. She was in the middle of folding the blanket as the others chorused their own welcomes. Their mood was still a bit flat, giving the situation at hand.

A stray glance at the blanket, however, made Tink perk up. “So JC is finally back, I take it?”

Lisa gave her a blank look. “Huh?”

Realizing that once again, she had said the wrong thing, Tink frowned. “The blanket. I remember it being on the sofa bed downstairs when we first moved in. So I thought…”

“You mean none of you put this on me last night?” Everyone shook their heads. Very slowly, her eyes moved to the soft piece of cloth in her hands. Then she turned and looked back toward the basement door.

Kay ended up speaking for her. Sometimes, Lisa wondered if their studies in magic carried the side effect of telepathy, but she and Kay had been close enough to nearly read each other’s minds long before magic came into the picture.

“Well that was sweet of him.”

“Yeah…” Lisa and Cyn chorused, though Cyn said it through a mouthful of chips and kept talking, “He can’t be too mad if he’s still being romanticute with you.”

“Romanticute?” asked Tink.

“Uh-oh.” Warrick said. “Cyn.”

He meant it to be warning, but he should have known better, considering the target. All he succeeded in was giving her a Cheshire grin. She crumpled the empty bag and tossed it across the kitchen, missing the trashcan by a good foot and a half. Osp took a second away from reeking spud-centric carnage to snag it and toss it away properly.

Meanwhile, Cyn went on to explained. “Romantic and cute. Romanticute. My word, but Melissa came up with the idea while we were making fun of you two.” She pointed between Tink and Warrick and grinned widely when Tink almost did a spit take.

“What?”

“You two are just plain adorkable—also my word—sometimes. Like how we can barely go into the commons without seeing cuddling.”

“Adorkable is not your word.” Said a red faced Warrick, desperate to change the subject. “There’s even a blog about geek romance called that and it’s been around since before I even knew you.”

“Stole it from me.” she shrugged. “Just like shiny meaning cool.”

“People have been using shiny since like the turn of the century.” Kay said as she took a seat that the table. Lisa sat down beside her after draping the blanket over one of the arm chairs in the living room.

“Not the way I use it.” Cyn insisted. “Old people use it to mean ‘good’, as in just plain good. I use it to mean ‘cool’ as in awesome. It’s a subtle, but important difference. Besides, there’s something way more important going on here, namely, the fact that Warrick knows a geek romance site by name.”

Just this once, Kay stepped in to save him. “Actually, I think the big important thing here is that JC isn’t acting like this is a fight, Lisa. You know how he gets when you two fight and this isn’t it.”

That was true. When they fought, and in the early years of their relationship, before Morganna, that happened a lot, JC didn’t just ghost and avoid her, he ignored her and made sure she knew the difference. If they were fighting, JC would be at the table right now, pointedly not talking to her. There wouldn’t have been a kiss, or a blanket, that was for sure.

“So maybe he really is just trying to process all this.” Tink suggested.

“For three days?” asked Cyn. “You got goddamn stabbed and you were okay the day of.”

“I’m prepared to guess that not everyone has the same reaction to this kind of news. Do you think you’d do what I did if it turned out Ollie was triple shifting as a masked vigilante?”

“Depends. Would I be getting stabbed? Because being stabbed would probably put me out of the make-out mood.” Cyn smirked.

“That was before I…” Tink’s mind caught up to her mouth and she blushed furiously while trialing off into a mumble.

“Too easy.” Cyn scoffed. “But you’re probably right. And Jay didn’t just get the ‘my girlfriend is magic’ news alone. He got ‘my best friends are secretly a super team’ along with the package. That’s a lot.”

“But he’ll come around soon.” Kay assured.

They were interrupted by Warrick groaning quietly and looked up to see the cause.

Isp and Osp had been supremely enthusiastic in shredding potatoes. Extremely. To the point that the end result simply was not going to fry up into hashbrowns.

Warrick suddenly noticed that everyone was staring at him, drawn out of their semi-serious conversation by his groan. A nervous laugh escaped him. “So… how do you ladies feel about latkes?”

***

As it turned out, they felt very good about them and potato cakes were unanimously inducted into their breakfast rotation.

After breakfast, the girls disappeared to change and get ready. Today was going to be their first ‘real’ day at Dawson Bay. The first full day had been spent in a funk over JC, and the second was dedicated to exploring the town and buying necessities they hadn’t brought with them.

With the assurance that JC wasn’t angry with Lisa, Kay and Cyn insisted that they try and make the most of things. So the plan was to hit the carnival on the main pier. It hadn’t been there when they spent the weekend at Dawson Bay the year before, so it would be a new experience.

Warrick dressed as soon as he woke up, so he was left to his own devices as the girls were getting ready. He tried to wile away that time watching television, but before long, he found himself at the basement door.

As far as he was concerned, it was his best friend, his fault for pressuring Lisa, and his responsibility to fix things. He just didn’t know how. So he started by knocking.

“Hey JC? You up man?” No answer. He sighed. “Alright, so maybe, maybe not. Look, we all handled this the worse possible way, through and through. If you’re mad, you’ve got the right. If you’re confused… you know that’s kind of the natural state of things, even for us sometimes. Especially me.

“There’s no rules of etiquette for this kind of thing. I guess spies must have something, but what we do, it’s different. I can’t even explain how, but this is all new ground here and now that I think about it, I probably have the most experience of anyone with keeping The Secret. Before I was Alloy, I was doing this in New York, see. I had to keep it from my parents, my sister… I’d say my friends, but I was a loser before my powers, and didn’t have time for people after… not until I got the Mayfield at least.

“I didn’t have all that much of a choice telling them though; same thing with Tink, really.”

Still no answer. Another sigh. “Um… well okay man. I get it. Listen, we’re all headed out to the pier. There’s a fair there. The old, old fashioned kind; with games from back before the LED screen. It’s going to be pretty cool, man. You shouldn’t miss it.

“But uh… if you still don’t want to hang out with us, there’s a plate in the fridge with breakfast stuff. Lisa fended Cyn off from it. And if you’ve got to go out and get something, me and Tink rented a moped and you’re welcome to use it while we’re gone. Keys are on the coffee table. Um… I guess that’s it. Hope we’ll see you at the fair, man. Later.”

He started to leave, but Isp was there when he turned with a concerned expression. Their type of expression was largely based on arranging the lattices at their cores, and thus were invisible to anyone without metal sense.

“I don’t know. Soon, I hope.” He answered a silent question.

Isp transformed it’s leading edge into a lock pick.

“Somehow, I don’t think invading his privacy is going to help things.”

Behind his back, Osp wrapped around the door knob and tried it. The door opened easily.

Warrick glanced between them. “Bait and switch. Not cool guys.” Still, if the door wasn’t locked anymore… He stepped to the top of the stairs. They went straight down to the next floor, ending directly in front of the wall so that one had to do a full one-eighty in order to see the rest of the room.

“Hey JC? Door was open.” He went halfway down and leaned over the rail to look into the room.

The sofa bed was pulled out, the covers a mess. But there was no one there.

“Huh.” Warrick went back up and looked into the living room. JC’s denim bucket hat, which had been handing from the coat rack was gone. So were the moped keys. He had to laugh. “You could have at least waited until I gave permission.”

Series Navigation<< Issue #52 – Scenes From a Changing WorldIssue #54 – Shadow of the Kurounagi >>

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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