He opened his eyes and it was dark, so he closed them again, because he was tired.
He opened his eyes and it was dark, so he closed them again, because the bed was too comfortable.
He opened his eyes and it was dark, so he closed them again, because he felt like it was important to stay in bed.
He was drifting through a shallow sleep, both aware and unaware of his surroundings, until he felt warm, sweet lips on his, giving him a gentle kiss.
He opened his eyes and it was no longer dark, so he didn’t close them again. Instead, he looked into two huge green orbs, just millimetres away from his own, while the kiss continued, and he felt an additional weight on his chest.
Blinking, he realised that he was in bed, and that Prisca was lying half on him, kissing him!
His eyes widened when he realised it, and hers brightened in response. He felt her lips twist into a smile while still pressed against his, and he lifted his head, leaning into the kiss.
She hummed, seemingly pleased, and shifted a little more of her weight onto him. One of her hands ran up the side of his body, over the blanket, then under it, along his arm, pulling it out and putting his hand onto her waist.
He curled his fingers, gently digging into the firm flesh of her waist, feeling momentarily annoyed that her clothes were in the way, before he decided this was enough for now, and just enjoyed.
The kiss went on for an indeterminate amount of time, until she parted their lips, pulling back just enough for him to be able to see her entire face, and her cat-like smile.
“Wakey-wakey, oh sleeping beauty,” she said, showing pearly white teeth behind her (very) red lips. Is she experimenting with make-up? “Everyone’s waiting for you to join the party.”
He couldn’t help but smile, even though he’d much rather have stayed asleep. “Good morning, oh waking beauty,” he replied, which only made her smile bigger. “What party?”
“The one next door, where everyone is eating lots of food and not-so-coincidentally adding to the sales figures of Vasiliki’s family’s restaurant,” she explained. “Get up, get dressed and you can have some, too.”
Lots of food. That… sounded much better than it had, just a few hours ago. Basil was suddenly aware of every missed meal in the last few weeks, and his stomach demanded recompensation. He tried to – gently – push her up, so he could get up as well, but she didn’t budge; he pushed again, surprised, suspecting that he was, perhaps, more weakened than he knew, but the result was the same, even with all his strength making the bed beneath them groan.
She was as immovable to him as a mountain. He raised an eyebrow, looking at her with a flat expression.
“What, do you think I’m just gonna let you, after how you’ve mostly ignored me for the last week and a half?” she asked sweetly. “You have to earn your right to get up, buster.”
I did, did I not? he thought, feeling guilty now. Prisca could finally do all – well, most of – the things she’d only dreamed of for years (and going out with a boyfriend had been one of her top three goals) and he’d pretty much started ignoring her since she got her power… well, not all the time, they had gone on a date, and it had been pretty fun, but still…
“I am sorry,” he said, lowering his eyes from her face… and then snapping them to the side with a blush, when he realised that she had a few too many buttons open on her maroon-coloured shirt. She didn’t comment on that, but he felt her chest – which he just now realised was only separated from his by way of his pyjamas, his blanket and her silky shirt, and that wasn’t distracting at all, no really, it wasn’t – vibrate with the force of barely suppressed giggling. “I have been a horrible boyfriend.”
She surprised him by kissing his cheek. “I admit, you’ve lost some BF points lately,” she said, her tone of voice somewhere between teasing and earnest. “Then again, you got a huge lot of them, on account of sticking with sickly ol’ me and saving my life twice over.”
“Good to know,” he said, not sure how to respond to that. You’re welcome? “So, can I spend some of those points to get you off of me, so I can eat?”
She shook her head. “Nope, they may be your BF points, but I am the one who gets to manage them.”
“That is hardly fair,” he replied, though he couldn’t hold back an amused smile. It had been a while since he’d had some carefree fun.
“Life isn’t fair,” she said before she stuck her tongue out at him.
His hand darted up, grabbing her pink tongue with his thumb and index. “Got you now,” he said, even though there was no way he could possibly hold onto any part of her if she didn’t want him to. “How about you let me get up, and I will release my hostage in ret- hey!”
She’d just leaned in and closed her lips around his fingers, her eyes mocking him. He tried to pull out, but she just applied a little suction – and that was all it took, really, to make it impossible to get them out.
Then she started to chew on them, which just felt plain weird. “Stop it!” he said, though he didn’t try to pull them out – that would’ve been futile against someone who could render herself completely untouchable – and instead went for the low blow. “Two can play this game!” He reached for her side and started to tickle her.
“Mmmmh!” She trashed around, surprised, and rolled off of him – and off the bed (he filed ‘ticklish’ away for future reference); only, she was still holding onto his fingers with her mouth and it happened so suddenly, he failed to keep his balance or brace himself and he fell right off with her.
They smacked onto the ground with a dull thud, him atop her, briefly knocking the air out of him. At least she finally let go of his fingers.
When he blinked and brought his sight back into focus, he found himself on her, his arms to the left and right of her head, touching her fanned-out red hair as she looked up at him with a flushed face.
“That… wasn’t… fair!” she gasped and tried to grab him – probably to tickle back – but he snatched up her wrists and pinned them to the floor, now on his knees and hands over her. His legs brushed hers and both were bare, making him realise he was only wearing a white shirt and his boxer shorts, while she was wearing a skirt or hot pants – at least he hoped she was, and she hadn’t just taken her pants off, because he was not at all sure he could – or wanted to – say ‘no’ again.
“Life is not fair,” he said with a smirk.
“Haha,” she said, before demonstrating an incredible amount of maturity by blowing him a raspberry.
“You look so cute like that, you know?” he said, still smiling. “All blushing and messy like a little girl.” He didn’t mention that the contrast between her expertly applied make-up (where’d she picked that skill up?) and her disordered hair and luminescent blush were making it hard for him to string any proper thoughts together.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said, her breathing slowing down again (he had not been sneaking glances at the way her chest strained against her shirt).
“Have I ever told you how gorgeous you are?” he said after a short while.
“Many times,” she said softly. “But that was always before. Never since that day.” She leaned up, giving him a soft peck on the lips. “Say it.”
“You’re gorgeous,” he obliged.
“Mmmh!” She squirmed underneath him, like a happy cat. “Feels good.” She cocked her head to the side. “So, are you going to do anything fun to me, or do you want to get up?”
He gave her as deadpan a look as he could manage, before he got up, offering her a helping hand. She took it (not that she needed it at all) and let him pull her up.
In spite of his worries, she was fully dressed, though not entirely decently, due to having left the top three buttons of her white shirt open.
“You’re incorrigible,” she said as she rolled her eyes while he buttoned her up.
“And you should not be taking fashion advice from Dalia,” he replied. “Nor copying her clothes.”
She blinked in surprise. “How’d you know?”
“I remember her wearing just this outfit three weeks ago,” he replied, taking a step back.
“So, my boyfriend memorises other girls’ outfits. Should I be concerned?” she asked, putting her weight on one foot and bracing her fists on her hips.
“I do not memorise them, I simply remember.” He turned away and went for the small closet he kept in this room (one drawer for him and each of the girls). “Who changed my clothes?”
“I did,” she replied, sounding a little annoyed.
“Should I be concerned?” he shot back while he took out cargo pants, a fresh blue shirt and socks.
She chuckled. “I wish, but no,” she replied, and she sounded sincere. “Though I was rather pleased to see just how… well you look by now.”
He looked over his shoulder as he was putting on his socks. “What do you mean?”
Her grin almost split her face. “You might not’ve noticed, but all that working out and the fight and manoeuver training – that’s gotten you a seriously nice body,” she almost-leered.
Oh. He took off his shirt (making her hum happily) and checked – she was right; he wasn’t showing a six-pack or anything (not that he seriously wanted one) but he was definitely not the stringy geek he’d been when he’d started out. “I did not notice,” he said honestly while he dressed.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t notice, it seems,” she said, now more seriously. “Speaking of which – are you feeling well? No headaches, or weird stuff?”
He took a moment to think it over. “No, I do not… notice…” He frowned – he really did feel alright. And calm. And, most importantly, without a headache.
In fact, he didn’t feel his power at all.
For a short moment, he panicked, before it all came back up again, the plans, the ideas, as bright and incessant as ever; but there was one thing missing…
I am not feeling that… pressure anymore, he thought, referring to that constant, driving need to actually apply his power all the time, the desire to improve and innovate without end. Hey, Man in the Moon – what is going on?
There was no response and Basil felt his heartbeat quicken as he stood there, frozen in contemplation.
Moony? Blazing Sun! Macian! he shouted into the darkness within his head, but nothing. No reply.
What had happened? He’d already lost contact to the Blazing Sun a while ago – though it did still supply him with designs – and he’d never even contacted the ‘Raging Heart’ beyond their first meeting, but now the Man in the Moon was gone, as well?!
Guys? Guys! Where are you?! What ha-
Pipe down, mate, the Man in the Moon replied, his voice sounding… weirdly distant. No need to panic.
What the hell is going on here!?
Can’t… say, he replied, as ever. It’s not… important just yet. Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon.
And on that ominous note, the presence he’d come to associate with the Man in the Moon retreated, going quiet.
The whole exchange had lasted less than a moment, but Prisca had picked up on something disturbing him. He’d said that they’d talk afterwards, first, he really needed to eat something.
So they left the room to join the others – and Basil froze at the sight of the scene in front of him. Prisca hadn’t been kidding when she’d said that ‘everyone’ was there.
Vasiliki and Dalia where there, of course, sitting on opposite ends of the couch and eating off of plastic plates. Tim sat on an old, ratty but oh-so comfortable love seat he’d added to the furniture himself, mostly for his own use. Stephi was there, Vasiliki’s BFF – whom he couldn’t remember seeing or hearing from for a while now, sitting on Tim’s lap of all things in her prim-and-proper school uniform (obviously customised by Vasiliki). Eudocia had joined the group, as well, her emblem on a computer screen they’d put on one end of the table.
In between Dalia and Vasiliki sat Aimihime, though Basil had to look twice to recognise her and what was she doing here!?
She had lost weight, a lot, but that wasn’t all; she’d cut her hair short, was wearing boyish clothing (jeans, a black shirt and a leather jacket she’d thrown over the back of the couch) and had an air of… seriousness about her that he’d never seen on her before.
Also, there was the issue that she was right here in his secret base. And no one had bothered to ask him… but then again, it wasn’t like he’d talked to anyone lately, at least not really.
When he stepped into the room, everyone stopped eating – the smell was brain-numbing – and looked at him and Prisca.
Before he could say anything, or any of them could say anything, Aimi got up and walked over towards him. Prisca, meanwhile, made her way to the couch, obviously intending to give the two of them some space. Everyone else hurriedly looked away, as well.
Aimi stopped about an arm’s reach away from him, her hands in her pockets, and looked up at him (she was at least a head shorter than him).
“Hi, Basil,” she said, and her voice, at least, was the same as ever. “Long time no see.”
“Hello, Aimi,” he replied. “We saw each other just a few days ago, at school.”
She rolled her eyes. “Perhaps I should say ‘Long time no talk‘, where ‘talk’ refers to actually being open and communicative with each other.”
“Ah. That makes more sense.” He looked awkwardly at her, because she’d just brought up the big elephant in the room that had kept them apart for months now.
He had not told her about his powers and what he was doing with them. And she hadn’t told him, either. Yet both of them had told Tim and he, obviously, had told each of them about the other, as well.
And the worst part is… he was probably right to do so.
“I’m sorry!” they both said at the same time.
They looked at each other and smiled.
“We even?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I guess… yeah. I mean, there are obviously a few questions to iron out, but…”
She nodded. “I know. Uh… there’s one that’s bugged me for a while now, ever since Tim told me about you.”
“Shoot,” he replied, feeling a little nervous.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked.
Oh, right. The obvious one. “At first, I told no one because I wanted to figure things out for myself. Then I learned that you had joined the United Heroes, and I did not want to put you into a situation where you would have a conflict of interest.”
She blinked, looking stunned for a moment. “You… uh… wow, that’s… kinda rational,” she stammered. “Silly, maybe, but rational. It’s not like you’re secretly a villain.”
“I am not. Why did you not tell me?
She shrugged. “I… nothing as thought out as your reasoning. I didn’t even want to tell Tim, actually.” She looked aside.
She blushed a bit. “I… look, you guys… especially you… you’re always so good at everything, you know?” She looked really embarrassed. “Tim’s great at writing and stuff, and he gets straight A’s in everything. You’re even smarter than him, and you’re great at sports, even though you never really try that much and you were always great with technology, even before you had powers…” She rubbed the back of her head. “I guess I just… I wanted to do something awesome, then reveal that it was me to you. Not be the boring one of the group, for once.”
Now it was Basil’s turn to look stunned.
“Well,” he finally said. “I guess we were both being silly.”
She nodded, still blushing.
“Do you still feel like you need to stop being ‘boring’?” he asked her.
She shook her head. “No. Not anymore, not since… since Hastur.” She sighed. “God, I… I thought what I went through, that day, was the worst. I didn’t know… Tim and Dalia told me what happened to you.”
Yeah, that was not very pleasant, he thought, rubbing his left arm with his right hand – sometimes, he still felt the pain. Like it hadn’t been healed entirely.
“So, what now?”
She looked up at him with a kind of serious look he’d never seen on her before.
She has changed… and I did not even notice.
“Now… I guess I know now… there are monsters out there. Real monsters. And real villains, too. And they need to be stopped.” She set her chin. “Looking awesome isn’t as important as keeping people safe from the monsters and the villains.”
He nodded, before pulling her into a brief hug. “That is true,” he said, though he felt a little guilty. After all, Amy was one of those villains. “I am sorry we did not have this talk sooner.”
She hugged him back, briefly. “Same.”
Then they stepped back, and she was smiling again. “So, how about you introduce me properly to that girlfriend of yours? And your team?”
“It will be a pleasure.”
And they went and joined the others at the table.