- Issue #85 – The Ballad of Bad Lass
- Issue #86 – Those Not Forgotten
- Issue #87 – Descendants… In Space
- Issue #88 – Tome of Battle
- Issue #89 – All That Glitters
- Issue #90 – Just Us Sidekicks
- Issue #91 – Rock and Roll Lifestyle
- Descendants Special #8 – The Heart of Rock ‘N Roll
- Issue #92 – Homage
- Issue #93 – Day of Recovery
- Issue #94 – The Knight, The Witch and the Gadgeteer (FaerieQuest Part 1)
- Issue #95 – Into The Woods (FaerieQuest Part 2)
All That Glitters (Part 4)
“Oh hi, Kareem.”
He tried not to flinch. Sharing a building with Lily was starting to become nerve-wracking. While she’d back off from overtly hitting on him after her made it clear it bothered him considering he was in a relationship, she still tended to turn up when he went to the cafe or the gym in the building.
This time, however, the voice wasn’t Lily’s. He looked up to find Callie coming into the cafe, surprisingly alone for once.
“Oh, hello, Callie. Are you done with classes for the day?”
“Done for a while, actually.” She said, coming to stand by the armchair he was sitting in. “I’ve been on the phone for the past hour with my cousin—we’re making plans to go out to dinner with her family later tonight. How’re you doing?”
Kareem made an expansive gesture. “Well. I just got in from my Psychology class and decided to stop in here a bit before going upstairs.”
“Want a little company? I was just going to grab a latte before heading out to do some shopping before dinner.”
“Of course. I have some time to talk.”
Callie grinned and went to the counter to order. A few minutes later, she returned with an over-sized, steaming mug of latte and took a seat on the couch nearest him. “So. What are you up to tonight? A date with Desiree, maybe?”
She tried to hide the venom in her words, but even without his powers, Kareem was empathic enough to pick up on it. Besides, he’d had practice considering how most of the people n his life seemed to feel about his girlfriend.
“May I ask you a question?”
Callie fidgeted a bit, but nodded.
“You don’t like Desiree.”
“I wouldn’t…” she started, then looked away guiltily when he gave her a look that asked for honesty. “Okay, kind of.”
Kareem didn’t look upset, only curious. “Why?”
She shrugged. “I… well I can’t really explain it. She’s just got this way about her. It feels like she’s looking down on me, like she’s only pretending to be nice to me. And you know my friends. You know how they were back in high school, but she’s worse. Everything she does just rubs me the wrong way and I can’t really say why, it just does.”
This made him frown. “Has she ever said anything to you?”
“N-no,” she said, turning her mug around in her hands. “Look, it’s just how she makes me feel. It’s not all that important though: what matters his how she makes ou feel, right?” After a moment of awkwardness, she looked up shyly, “How does she make you feel?”
Kareem shrugged. “I suppose she make me feel good. We enjoy each other’s company abd out talks.”
“That… has not come up yet,” Kareem said haltingly. “Desiree is very conscious about her appearance and any time we got beyond, well, a certain point, she calls things off.” His face heated at the discussion and he avoided making eye contact.
“Well that’s kind of a surprise.” The words came out of Callie before she could censor them and she blushed. “Sorry. It’s just… you guys have been together for almost a year, haven’t you?”
“More than a year,” admitted Kareem. “But if it makes her uncomfortable just now, I’m willing to wait.”
Callie laughed. “Wow. If more guys were like you, I wouldn’t be so nervous at the idea of dating.”
“You don’t date? Now that I come to think of it, I haven’t seen you with anyone.”
She waved it off. “I’ve gone on a few dates, but the whole ‘public identity’ thing’s made it all awkward. Guys I meet on the street turn out to be fans who just have a thing for ‘Vamanos’, or if they don’t know me, they don’t get what it means for me to be a hero. Oh, and then there’s the creepers who just think the costume’s hot and want me to wear it on a date.”
Kareem shivered and replied mentally. I’ve read some of my fan mail. Aloud, he added, “I understand how put off you must be. Might I suggest the anonymity of the internet?”
“I think I’ll probably give it a try. But anyway, I’m sorry for saying mean things about Desiree, it’s just…”
“How you feel,” Kareem finished for her. “No, I understand… I suppose. It just disheartens me a bit that this is not a rare opinion among our friends. Am I not nearly as perceptive as I think I am?”
Javier waited until they were served and once again afforded a measure of privacy before elaborating.
“Much like you, I discovered my abilities at a young age. I was seventeen when I realized that people who made me angry began to be come… ill.”
Perdita gave him a wide-eyed stare. “You make people sick?”
He took the time to eat a spoonful of his own banana split. “In a certain manner of speaking. At first, I thought they were merely ill, but in time, I realized that they were behaving as if they were under the effects of alcohol. You see, our family’s power is to change the way people’s brains work. For me, it results in symptoms almost indistinguishable from inebriation. For you, it is paralysis.”
Looking down at her hand, Perdita frowned. “But where does it come from?”
“Interesting that you ask this quesiton almost immediately. It is only recently that I took the time to look into this. It made no sense to me, as my ancestors are all from Espania and Francisco Franco kept the country out of the Second World War, when most of the experiments that created people like I were carried out.”
He gestured with his spoon to Perdita’s sundae. “Eat before it melts. You will not hear me any better simply sitting and staring.”
Perdita blinked before processing what he’d said. Then she nodded and picked up her spoon.
Javier smiled and took another bite of his own treat before continuing the tale. “As it happens, my several-times great grandfather, a man named Enrique Castillas, ended up on France fighting on the side of the resistance. Unfortunately for him, he was captured and moed to a camp where he was experimented on, gaining mutations that would one day grant you and I our fantastic abilities.”
Pausing in scooping up a puddle of combined hot fudge and caramel looked up at him. Trepidation furrowed her brow. “But you said you were… a criminal?”
Swelling with pride, Javier corrected her with a broad smile on his face, “I am the greatest criminal, my dear. An assassin of sorts, who leave no bodies behind and no reason for any authorities to even glance in my direction.” The expression of shock elicited by the word ‘assassin’ brought a twinkle to his eye.
He cleared his throat. “Allow me to correct the image already forming in your head at the moment. I am what you would call a character assassin. With the power to inebriate at range, I am uniquely capable of doing real and lasting damage to celebrity and political careers be publicly tearing down their inhibitions and fine motor skills in a display that will no doubt be fodder for weeks of media mockery and speculation.” A hint of smugness found its way onto his face.
Unfortunately for his pride, he was met with only a confused look from Perdita.
A mental sigh. His granddaughter was clever, but still didn’t see the big picture. He let out a light chuckle. “I admit, that does not sound as exciting as merely taking what you want, but believe me, it has its benefits. For one, my fee starts at five million dollars American.”
Suddenly the confusion was gone. “That’s how much you make? And you’re not wanted or anything?”
Javier spread his hands. “There is no proof a crime has been committed, no reason to think one even occurred. Unlike, for example, leaving a store in shambles with many witnesses who, while reportedly without their memory of the events, still provide evidence of a crime occuring alongside the missing merchandise.”
A tiny, nervous laugh escaped Perdita and she scratched her neck. “I guess I never thought of that. Besides, with no video and no one remembering any of it, there’s no way they can catch us, right?”
She gave him a hopeful look, which fell upon seeing his expression: apologetic, but seemingly proud to provide further instruction. “Not necessarily, nieta. As long as the police of this city are aware a crime was committed, they will investigate. And since they know something beyond their normal experience is involved, they will commit the nationally publicized Special Investigations Division to look into this further—or even bring in The Descendants.”
“I-it’s just some clothes though. They wouldn’t call in superheroes for that would they?”
He stroked his chin while taking another bite of his ice cream. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. You have made it quite clear that you can incapacitate normal humans; the police may believe they cannot handle this case on their own. In any case, do you think it is wise to merely assume they will not be called in?”
By now, Perdita was fidgeting in her seat. “W-what am I supposed to do then?”
A broad smile graced the older man’s face. “Now that is a very good question, my dear. The answer is: ‘think’.”
“Indeed: think. What evidence is there out there to possibly connect you to the robberies?”
Perdita shrugged. “I don’t know… nothing, I guess? We didn’t leave anything behind, or touch anything we didn’t take. They can’t take fingerprints off glitter, can they?”
“No, they cannot, but tell me this: what connects you to the stores? To the crimes?”
Once again, Perdita took moment thing then and then slowly, as if she might be admonished for being incorrect, guessed, “The clothes?”
Instead of admonishment, she earned a nod. “Indeed. Tell me: who knows that you and your friends have these clothes?”
Perdita shrugged. “Me and my friends. We haven’t gone to any parties or anything to show them off or anything and I made sure they both knew to hide them from their parents.”
Taking a moment to think, Javier leaned back and scratched his beard. And you are certain your friends haven’t told anyone else?”
Again she shrugged. “I don’t know. None of them have mentioned anything on Quintessence or SpeakOut. Mo… um, one of them mentioned how she needed to… oh crap.”