The Imperfect Iron Fold
The Story So Far
So, it’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these.
It feels right to summarize everything since the last story. So, here I go.
The OrigAvengers successfully defeated Jude in our first outing together. Jude himself was expelled, and the OrigAvengers stayed a group through the rest of the school year. Then summer came, and we didn’t have anything to do. So, we’ve kind of taken leave. Andy didn’t want to, being the Golden Boy that he is, but I don’t know what he’s so worried about. Five out of the six members go to the same school. We can just reform whenever we need to.
We’ve got a new role, however. Being that there are no major threats to the school at the moment, our current objective is to end the war. It’s hard to focus on that whole problem, however, because I’m the biggest celebrity in the school right now!
Everybody knows me as the face of the OrigAvengers, and as such people love me for my role in stopping the Kirby attack. It’s fantastic! I mean, I was still popular even before I became Iron Fold, but this is a new level. I’m as popular as Cassidy Lashay now. That’s not some little thing. It’s a bummer, then, that some people are too preoccupied with ending the Wheeler/Kirby war to focus on the really important stuff. Even more unfortunately, two of those people are my girlfriend, Emily, and my best friend, Robby.
Emily is one of the biggest supporters of this unity, which annoys me. She’s this close to starting a ‘Unite, Don’t Fight’ rally outside the school. It’s ridiculous. Robby isn’t as bad, but he is still very vocal about the whole thing. Using Cardboard Machine, he’s even been taking on jobs that I should be taking. He’s been doing the bully preventing and role model stuff that comes with my role as Iron Fold. He’s even taken my place on a few OrigAvengers missions! If that’s not betrayal of trust…
Leonard Broderick is a big supporter, too. The irony of that fact is not lost on me, seeing how he used to be, but it seems to be lost on everybody else. He has tried to act really friendly lately, but I still don’t trust him. I know I said I’d give him a chance, but when I wrote that I hadn’t taken into account how annoying he would become.
Oh, yes, the biggest piece of new information; my younger brother, Cal, started school here. He is so goshdarn excited to be here it’s insane; he’s tried to join every club around, especially F.O.L.D. I don’t want him to, as it’s just a dumb origami lovers group but he won’t listen. Interestingly, he is currently the least annoying part of my school year so far. That’s surprised me immensely.
Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like a pessimistic, egotistical, jerk. I don’t know, I just feel like I’ve earned this, and nobody else thinks that. None of my closest friends are celebrating the fact that I’m one of the most popular faces in the school right now! That… that really hurts my feelings. Hmm… who knows… maybe it’s time I got some new friends… friends who appreciate me.
Heh, whatever. Anyways, maybe this year will be super-easier than last year. Maybe there won’t be any origami fights or bad superhero puns or school-threatening events. Maybe it will be a normal school year.
Of course, by voicing my hopes I’m just going to jinx everything. So I should probably just shut my mouth.
An Unexpected Return
YES! I FINALLY GET TO WRITE A CHAPTER!
Okay, excuse the outburst. That kind of takes away from the more somber tone….and I’m technically not supposed to be writing one anyway, but Clark left his computer open so I just started writing.
Things have become complicated. My mom is one of the coolest people I know, and she’s been raising me and Clark by herself for years. Sometimes it’s been a bit hard, but it’s been fun, just the three of us.
A wrench has been thrown into that way of life.
That wrench is my uncle coming back.
It actually happened at dinner last night, being Sunday night. We were sitting down to dinner when the doorbell rang. Mom got up from the table and didn’t come back for awhile. I could hear her with someone with a really heavy accent, talking in the hall.
“Who do you think she’s talking too?” I asked Clark.
“I’m not sure…but I do recognize that voice…” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I know that voice. You probably don’t.”
“Yes I do,” I thought for a moment, I realized I only barely recognized it. “Who is it, Clark?”
My question was answered when Mom came back into the dining room with a taller, more muscular Hispanic guy about her age. There was a definite familial resemblance between them.
“Ricky?” Clark asked.
“Hi, boys,” he said. “It’s been awhile.”
I was really confused, but Clark looked mad for some reason. “Where have you been?” he asked, really sharply.
“Clark, watch the attitude,” Mom scolded, but she had the same tone of voice.
“I’ve been…places. I missed you guys and I wanted to come back.”
“I’d have preferred you came back when we needed you. At the moment we don’t,” Clark snapped.
My dad was a bad guy, who would always leave for a long time and wouldn’t support us. Uncle Ricky, Mom’s brother, sort of helped out to try and get back on our feet. Then he did some bad stuff. I don’t know what, exactly, but Clark seemed to know and not be forgiving of it.
“So, what brings you to our neck of the woods, Rick?” Mom asked him.
“Like I said, I wanted to see you all again. And, I’ve broken my addictions, so I’m a free-ish man. I’m not here to mooch anymore.”
“Yeah, sure,” Clark muttered.
Mom smiled. “Well, it’s great to see you, little brother.”
“By twelve minutes,” Ricky said, grinning.
“So, what do you do now, Uncle Ricky?” I asked.
“I’m trying to start a music shop, actually. ‘Rick-Rolled Instruments’ or something, I haven’t got all the logistics.”
“Where are you living?” Clark asked.
“I got a place in the apartment block down the street. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me in the next few weeks.”
Once again, Mom smiled. “Whatever hatchet we had before has been buried. You’re free to come anytime.”
I, for one, was really excited about this prospect. A new uncle! That had to be fun. Clark, however, was less than enthusiastic. I could tell he did not trust Ricky in the slightest. He needs to get over himself, though. Ricky seems like a great guy now.
Back to Basics
Kirby and Wheeler are still at each other’s throats, in case you were wondering. Wheeler was grateful towards the OrigAvengers for preventing the mob’s attack, of course, but they were still furious that Kirby as a whole was ready to destroy them. (And they think that it was all because of Dove that everything is okay, which is false.)
So, we gotta work harder to bring them together. Clark is the most famous, and frankly popular members of the OrigAvengers here at Kirby, so if he wanted peace this would be so easy.
However, Clark is preoccupied. For one, he thinks his uncle is out to steal the family fortune or something. For two, I think he thinks that this war is beneath him, that it doesn’t warrant his concern. That has been really difficult.
“It’s not beneath me,” he told me. “It’s just…kind of monotonous at this point. Didn’t we already sort of succeed with the first OrigAvengers thing?”
“You won a battle, not the war,” I said.
“But why can’t the war be won with a battle?”
“That’s not how it works.”
I’m a member of the Student Body Council this year. In fact, I’m the Vice President. During a meeting, the war did in fact come up. The president, Harrison Herring, gave the breakdown.
“Wheeler has settled it’s attacks recently, but something big is brewing underneath. Wouldn’t you say, Ms. Madison?”
“I wouldn’t say that. This slowed-down battle-stuff could mean an end is in sight,” I replied.
“Thank goodness. This whole ordeal is stupid as crap,” the treasurer, Daniel, said. He was your typical unsociable emo type kid who couldn’t care less about any problem, but he was a whiz with the school finances. That didn’t make him any less annoying.
“If this war is abating as you say, Ms. Madison, it might be a wonderful idea to help further the progress. Isn’t Halloween coming around the corner?”
Obviously, it was October, so Harrison was right. “Yes, sir.”
“Well, why don’t we have a bi-school Halloween party? Both schools are invited to come, so everyone has a great time!” Harrison threw his hands up at this last exclamation. He was the excitable sort.
“That’s a great idea.” I wrote down ‘Halloween Party’ on my notepad. “Who should we put in charge?”
Harrison leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “Why don’t you be in charge of picking the candidate?”
I smiled, knowing exactly who to say.
“Absolutely not,” Clark said after I told him.
“Too bad, you’re already in charge.”
“You are malicious.”
I playfully nudged him on the arm. “Come on, sweetie. This job will help take your mind off of everything you’ve been dealing with. It’ll be fun.”
He rolled his eyes, was quiet for a moment and finally nodded. “Fine, I’ll do it. But I won’t have to like it.”
I smiled. “There’s the Clark I know.”
Mission Report from Leonard Broderick
By Leonard Broderick
Hello again, Tilly.
I apologize for these constant updates but I do what my job demands.
Onto the purpose of this email: I am worried about the mental state of one of our assets. In particular, Clark A. Largent.
This is not just my petty rivalry against him talking…well, not fully, but Clark has been different lately. I have noticed that he is under far more stress than usual and that is having a negative effect on his personality and overall well-being.
Clark may need some sort of intervention from F.O.L.D. before this budding problem gets any worse.
Once again, this is only coming from a concerned bystander and not from the annoyed rantings of a formally-scorned enemy. Totally.
P.S. So, Tilly, if you ever get the time, would you like to go out somewhere? It’d be fun, I promise.
The Chameleon Strikes
“Welcome, everyone, to what I feel will be another fine school board meeting,” a kid with a buzz cut said, proudly. I was sitting in the Teacher’s Lounge for a special-called Student Council meeting, forced there because of my new standing as Halloween planner. If Tony Stark were in my position, he would have been able to leave immediately. I didn’t have that luxury. “I would like to welcome Mr. Clark Largent to the meeting, since he is the new head planner of our Halloween shebang. Isn’t that right, Clark?”
“Yeah, sure,” I grumbled.
“Fantastic! Now, for those of you who don’t know Clark, let’s introduce ourselves. I am, of course, Harrison Herring, your Student Body President.”
“I know who you are,” I replied.
“Over there is the Treasurer, Daniel Donohue. You of course know my Vice-President, the lovely Emily Madison, and Secretary of Defense Trenton Adams.”
Scanning the room, I noticed that Daniel looked as bored as I did. Emily kept glaring at me to pay attention, and Trent looked like he had a fever; he was wearing a scarf that obscured the entire lower half of his face. And it looked like he’d accidentally put on two eyepatches instead of one.
“You okay there, Trent?” I asked.
“Mmmhmm,” he mumbled, moving his head to face the source of my voice. I didn’t understand why he didn’t just take his eyepatches off.
“Our first order of business,” Harrison started, “Is to deal with those troublemakers calling themselves ‘Watchdogs.’ The war will end whether they like it or not.”
“Mmmmhmmmhmmmhmmm,” Trent replied, through the scarf, before sneezing loudly.
“I believe he means F.O.L.D. will handle it,” Emily translated. Trent nodded in confirmation.
“Ah, whatever. F.O.L.D.’s way too overrated,” Daniel Donohue replied. He was so bored he’d taken out his phone and was playing some game on it. I don’t think I trusted our school Treasurer anymore.
“Thank you for your constructive opinion, Daniel,” Harrison replied. “But I think I’ll trust F.O.L.D.’s track record over your annoying ideals. Okay, onto the second order of business. Clark, what about the Halloween Party?”
“What about them?” I asked.
“Have you started planning at all?” Emily asked. I could tell she knew that I hadn’t even started one piece of it.
“No,” I replied. I thought it was better to give a blatant answer in this instance.
“But Halloween is in a week!” Harrison shouted. “You have to get started, Clark.”
“Well, I’m sorry I was thrown into this with no say in the matter.” I crossed my arms, annoyed. Suddenly, I felt bad because Emily obviously knew I could do it if I put my mind to it. Iron Fold was glaring at me from his spot in my shirt pocket. I inwardly groaned and put my arms back at my sides. “Okay, I’m sorry, that was uncalled for. What about some entertainment?”
“What would you suggest, babe?” Emily asked.
“Well…um…I don’t know, exactly.”
“What about that dumb puppet guy from when we were in middle school?” Daniel suddenly added, not looking up from his phone. “You guys love puppets here.”
I knew immediately who he was talking about. And I hated that guy. “No, no, no, no. Anybody but him.”
“Well, he works for very cheap,” Emily added, smirking evilly at me. “Why don’t we try it? He’ll be a good fit here, if not for the opportunity of memes.”
“Emily, I love you, but right now I don’t really like you,” I grumbled quietly.
“This is payback for being a sullen idiot,” she responded. “And that cuts your work in half.”
“I think it’s an excellent idea!” Harrison shouted, overjoyed.
“Fine,” I replied through gritted teeth. “Thank you, Danny, for your wonderful suggestion.”
“No problem, buckethead,” Danny said, still absorbed in his game.
Emily was right; I was glad a lot of my work had been taken over. Then came the next part:
“If this is going to be a ‘Unifying Party,’ how do we get Wheeler over here? “ I asked.
“That will be difficult…but, I believe it can be done.” Harrison pressed a button on the answering machine sitting in front of him. “Could you send Adrian in, please?”
“Yes, sir,” a voice answered.
Another kid walked in, with dark skin and tall hair. I wasn’t surprised to see he held an origami puppet. It looked like a helmet made out of a dollar.
“Everyone, this is Adrian. He’s a hall monitor at Wheeler but a student here due to some fun program. I don’t know how that all makes sense, but he’s my eye on the ground at our Distinguished Competition. He also wields Heimdollar.”
“Howdy,” Adrian said, waving.
“So, Adrian, do you believe you can spread the word about the Halloween party to Wheeler students?” Harrison asked his assistant.
“Most definitely, yeah. Dove’ll be happy to help too.”
“Oh, how is Dove?” Emily asked, sympathetically. I hadn’t seen him in awhile. I did like that big Swedish Nerd.
“He’s fine, but he’s still taking his breakup hard,” Adrian explained. “Anyway, I gotta go. Hope I helped! “ Adrian left the room.
As soon as Adrian left, Trent jumped up from his seat and tore off his scarf. I couldn’t help but notice that his mouth looked nothing like it usually looked. Now, he had huge buck-teeth and some unsightly pimples on his chin. He still didn’t take off his eyepatches.
“You’ve just been tricked by I, the Chameleon! You’ve given me and my boss all the ammunition we need to ruin this event, Unifiers! Thank you immensely for all the help you’ve been!”
The guy who looked like Trent tried to dash out the door, but with his sight impaired by the eyepatches he slammed into the wall and fell over. He got back up quickly however and successfully found the door handle. He hustled outside and rounded the corner, slamming the door behind him.
“Oh my, I believe we’ve made a mistake,” Harrison tut-tutted.
I leaned over to Emily. “That wasn’t Trent, was it?”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Of course not. Why didn’t you go chase him, Iron Man?”
“Eh, I felt sorry for him. He looks like an idiot.” I reclined in my seat. This new development would certainly make this party a whole lot more interesting.
Spooky Scary Skeletons
Clark recruited me to help him with the Halloween party (slightly against my will) and part of that job is to make sure all of the decorations are procured. Some of these decorations are skeletons, of course, because it’s Halloween. So, that’s where we (me, Clark, and Emily) were this morning in the early hours of the day, moving skeletons that I had at my house (don’t ask) from the back of my truck into the gymnasium. Fun times.
“Why are these so heavy, Rob?” Clark asked.
“They might be real bone, I dunno.”
“Real bone!?” Clark shouted, suddenly. He dropped the skeleton he carrying on the ground, and of course it shattered into about a million pieces. Me and Emily immediately busted out laughing.
Clark shot us both an aggravated look. “Not cool. Help me fix this.”
“What?” I said. “It’s funny.”
“Well, now we’ll be stuck here for longer trying to fix this stupid thing just because of your stupid joke.”
“Clark, be nice,” Emily said.
Well, that did get me to shut up. I assumed he’d have laughed along with the rest of us, but…
“Hey guys, need any help?”
“Hey, Cal,” I said. I knew Cal pretty well. He was cool, for a younger brother type.
“I think we’ve got it handled, bro,” Clark said, fitting the jaw back onto his skeleton’s head.
“Oh, I just wanted to tell you that a couple mad guys are coming over, and I wondered if I could show you my hero skills.”
“Mad guys?” Emily said. We all looked around the truck, and like Cal said, saw two guys storming over.
“Is this the place for the Unificating Halloween party?” The first guy said. It was none other than Jameson Tanner. His friend was Brian Faber.
“If you are here to make trouble, I’d suggest leaving,” Emily replied, very forcefully. “I have an OrigAvenger and a F.O.L.D. Agent with me. And I’m the Vice President, so I have far more actual power than you two do.”
“I’m here too!” Cal shouted, then held his fists up.
“You can’t touch the Watchdogs, sweetie. We’re everywhere,” Brian taunted.
Clark squared up immediately, stomped in front of Emily and glowered at them. He held up Iron Fold. In turn, I held up Cardboard Machine. His armor been remodeled with shinier paper and more guns on the back. It was massive. I loved him.
“Take it back, you *bleep*” Clark said. “Nobody calls Emily ‘sweetie’ except me.”
“Woah, Clark, language!” Cal replied, horrified.
“I’ve heard worse,” I mumbled, indeed surprised that Clark would use that kind of language in front of his own brother.
Jameson grabbed one of the skeletons from the back of my truck, threw it to the ground and stomped down on it’s head. “That’s what us Watchdogs think of the whole ‘Party’, and if you aren’t careful we’ll do it to you, too. It’s petty, maybe, but Wheeler’s a jerk, you’re a jerk, the whole Student Council is jerk. We’ll fight ‘em until they see it.”
“You wanna fight us?” I said. “Because we’ll fight you.”
“Nah,” Brian said. “We just wanted to get the message across. Later.”
Clark balled up his fists, but Jameson and Brian had walked away before anything could happen. I gripped his shoulders. “Easy, man. It’s just one skeleton head. That’s not a lot of damage.”
“I was ready to add some more,” Cal said, smirking.
Clark spun on his heel to look at Emily. “Okay, Emily. This party is happening, if for no other reason than to rub it in their stupid faces. I’m all in.”
“That’s fantastic, Clark,” Emily replied, smiling.
At the end of the day, like usual, Clark drove us back to our house, having the same conversation we always have on the way home.
“Can I please join the OrigAvengers?”
“But I helped you take down those two bullies!”
“You still use the word ‘bully’?”
“Stop evading. Why won’t you let me in?”
“It’s for older kids.”
“And I’m seventeen. See, older.”
We got home and walked inside. Clark’s face turned sour when he saw Uncle Ricky inside talking with mom.
“Oh, hey boys,” Mom greeted us.
“Why is he back?” Clark asked, sounding really nasty again.
Uncle Ricky turned around and smiled. “I’m here because I live down the street, remember? Now, do you wanna come over here and play a game with us?”
I said yes and Clark said no. He went upstairs and I followed him.
“What is your deal?”
He was lying on his bed looking up at the ceiling.
“Ricky was a jerk who totally broke mom’s heart and he doesn’t deserve to rejoin the family.”
I lay down next to him. I kind of remembered when Ricky would come over, but I didn’t remember it very well. I didn’t know why he’d left. “What did he do that was so bad?”
Cal looked up me, obviously not really wanting to tell but forced to do it anyway. “Okay, so, back when we were younger, dad always left and whatever?”
“Well, Ricky came to help us out around the house and stuff. He stayed with us for a few months. He was pretty fun, I’ll grant. I played with him a lot. “
“Mom kicked him out, though, because she found out he was stealing some of her money behind her back to buy booze and stuff like that. He actually tried to get back to us but every time he just wanted more money so he could get drunk.”
“That’s why I don’t trust him at all. If he’s back that means he only wants more money and we’re not giving it to him.”
I leaned back on Clark’s bed and considered all this information. It was a ton to take in. “But…Clark, have you considered that Ricky might actually have changed?”
“People don’t change, bro.”
“He’s an idiot.”
Clark sighed. He got that ‘I’m the big brother who knows it all’ look in his eye. I hated that look. “Cal, Ricky isn’t worth our time. Don’t buy into his lies. It’s all a sham.”
I wasn’t going to listen to Clark’s advice. Ricky deserved a second chance, and I was going to give him one.
So, our entertainment person was supposed to be here any moment. He was the guy that would be doing our Halloween party, so we at least had to make sure he was good. Me and Clark were sitting in one of the empty classrooms, awaiting Mr. GCF.
“This’ll be fun!” I said. I’d always wanted to meet Mr. GCF after he had done a few assemblies. Ventriloquy had always fascinated me.
Pretty soon, the man himself peeked his head in the door. He had a piece of paper with him. He looked down to read it. “Is this where I’m supposed to meet…Clark and Robby?”
“That’s us!” I said, enthusiastically.
“Let’s make this quick,” Clark said. “Please, introduce yourself.”
He stepped inside. “So, I’m Adam, but you can call me Mr. Good Clean Fun.” He reached behind his back and returned with a terrifying monkey puppet. “And this is Soapy!”
“WHAT THE CRAP?” Clark shouted, falling out of his chair.
“Language, young man!” Adam said, offended.
“Yeah, sucker!” his sock puppet screeched.
“Ignore him, he doesn’t like puppets like that. He prefers paper puppets,” I explained.
“No way, seriously?” Adam asked. “You guys do origami too?”
“Too?” Clark asked, climbing back into his chair. “What do you mean, too?”
Adam smiled, apparently fondly remembering something. “One of the main schools I worked with awhile ago, down in Virginia, they did origami puppets. Star Wars ones. They were good kids, but I don’t think they ever grasped the concept of ‘Wash your hands before you eat! Because eating germs is not a tasty treat!’” He said this last part in a sing-songy voice.
“Well, we don’t do Star Wars here. We do Marvel.” Clark pulled Iron Fold out of his pocket to emphasize the point.
“Great! I’ve always preferred superheroes,” Adam replied, brightening up. “My favorite character is Batman.”
Clark looked offended. “Batman isn’t Marvel-”
I cut him off. “Anyway…what kind of entertaining can you do for us?”
“Oh, well, I’ve done assemblies, pep rallies, I’ve even chaperoned field trips. My best act was the assemblies. There I’d talk about germs and how to wash your hands and stuff like that.”
“Don’t gripe; use a wet wipe!” Soapy shouted.
“Uh huh…” Clark said slowly, still terrified of the monkey.
“Have you ever done a Halloween show?” I asked.
I nodded. “That’s why you’re here. We need an entertainer.”
“This is literally the only reason you are being considered,” Clark said.
“I could make one!”
I smiled and stuck my hand out. “You’re hired.”
He smiled back, but wiped his hand with a wet wipe before shaking my hand.
We have the entertainment down!
Chameleon Strikes Again But It’s Worse
I can’t understand why you guys can’t just handle your own problems. Gosh. I’m just kidding of course, I love what you all do and you’re my best friends…I’m gonna stop rambling now.
That Chameleon dude? The one who imitated Trent? Well, Trent wasn’t happy about that.
“How in the heck did you not realize it wasn’t me?” he shouted at Clark. “I never wear two eyepatches. That’s stupid.”
“Well, it’s stupid to wear one eyepatch too, but here you are,” Clark replied, shrugging.
“We just thought it was some weird spy thing,” Emily said.
Trent rolled his one visible eye. “Do you have any idea where he went?”
“No, sorry,” Emily apologized. “We think he was just there to gather information on the Halloween party. The Watchdogs want to wreck it, most likely.”
“Was any important information gathered?”
“Not really. I think he left before he could actually get any information. He seems kind of dumb.”
“Um, hello?” A voice called from the basement door. “I would like a word with Director Trent.” Harrison Herring was standing in the doorway. I didn’t completely trust him; he seemed too optimistic all the time. And that’s coming from me! “Come in!” I called up to him.
Harrison stepped down, wearing his usual business-casual attire with some black sunglasses and a nice fedora. I don’t think I’d ever seen the kid wear a T-Shirt. “I would just like to congratulate Mr. Largent on the work he has completed on the Halloween party. The preparations are coming along fantastically and Mr. Good Clean Fun will indeed be the entertainment.”
“We were discussing that too,” I said, cheerfully. “Except, more like the possibility of evil villains attacking the party. That would be difficult challenge to beat.”
“My boyfriend has fought many villains since becoming Iron Fold,” Emily said, grinning at Clark. “I am sure he’ll be up to the challenge.”
“Of course, sweetie,” Clark replied. He was slightly blushing. “Any excuse to beat up Jameson Tanner and his merry band of idiots.”
Clark sneered. “Jameson is a jerk that doesn’t deserve my time. He keeps coming back to get beat up so I’ll give him what he wants.”
Trent punched Clark in the arm. “While F.O.L.D. does not support Clark’s attitude, The party has our full support. Nothing will get past us.”
Harrison beamed. “Well, if Iron Fold, my Vice President, and F.O.L.D. itself are so confident about its success, then it will be one!”
“Um, hello?” a voice called down from the door. “I would like a word with Director Trent.”
I looked up at the door and a kid dressed exactly like Harrison stepped down into the basement. But this Harrison wasn’t wearing a fedora and sunglasses. The Harrison that was wearing a fedora and sunglasses yelped. He bolted out through the basement door and disappeared.
“Oh, dear, was that the Chameleon-person again?” apparently the real Harrison tut-tutted.
“I believe it was,” Trent said, scratching his chin.
“Do you mean to tell me that a simple disguise of that sort fooled all of you?”
Clark shrugged. “Not at all. I just feel bad for the kid. I’m giving him a chance.”
Harrison suddenly smiled and shook Clark’s hand. “Thank you for being a hero that gives his villains a chance to be more villainous. That is an admirable trait.” Harrison turned to the rest of us. “Now, about this party…”
So we spent the next while recapping everything. Now the Chameleon and the Watchdogs know how to avoid F.O.L.D. at the party.
Mission Report from Leonard Broderick #2
By Leonard Broderick
Just making sure my concerns were heard and warranted. I’m just looking out for the people, you know?
Also, if my concerns were heard and warranted, could I make a request to be the punishing officer? That’d feel really great. Obviously, not for any selfish reason…obviously. Okay, thanks.
P.S. Ignore the love part. Unless it doesn’t bother you. Does it bother you?
I’m convinced; the entire world is out to ruin me. There’s no other explanation for it. Just a couple weeks ago everything was fine and dandy but now, nothing is fair and everything sucks.
Let me backtrack.
Mom and Cal were out tonight, watching a movie or something. I think they were watching Venom, I didn’t really care. Venom just doesn’t look that good to me.
Anyway, I was home by myself, supposedly, when I heard rustling in the kitchen. I was texting Emily at the time. That noise really freaked me out, because we don’t have a pet to make rustling noises like that. Well, aside from Mario, my mouse, but he’s an angel anyway. I climbed off my bed and had my phone ready to call 911. I grabbed a baseball bat from the corner of my room and started creeping downstairs.
When I got to the bottom I turned the corner into the kitchen. Guess who was in the kitchen, where he wasn’t supposed to be? Uncle Ricky, typing on mom’s personal laptop. With a checkbook next to him.
History always repeats itself.
“Ha! I knew it!” I shouted trimuphantly. “I knew you were still a terrible person!”
Ricky jumped, obviously surprised to see me. “Woah, Clark. Don’t jump to conclusions, Clark. It’s not at all what you think.” He sounded really calm, actually.
“Cut the crap Ricky. What are you doing here? How’d you get in?”
Ricky pulled a key out of his pocket. “Your mom gave me a spare. She said I could come back anytime. I took that a bit too literally.”
“This still quantifies as breaking and entering, probably. Just wait till I call mom-”
I was cut off by the front door opening and Mom and Cal walking in.
“Clark, that movie was awesome! Super weird, but awesome!”
“It was pretty cool. Tom Hardy is a hunk.” Mom chuckled while Cal glared at her.
“Mom! Focus!” I pointed to Ricky, still at the computer. “Ricky broke in and is trying to steal our money again?”
Mom suddenly got really serious. “Ricky…is this true?”
“I should hope not,” Ricky said, serious too. I was ready for his to get his commuepance, again. “Clark didn’t give me a chance to explain myself. Gosh, I wanted this to be a surprise…come on, just look for yourself.”
He moved out of the computer chair and gestured for Mom to sit down. She looked a bit unsure, but she walked over and sat down anyway. What was he doing?
Mom looked at the screen for a moment, and it looked like she was starting to cry. “Ricky…you…didn’t need…”
“You didn’t deserve any of the problems I caused. I’m making up for it.”
“What is it, Mom?” Cal asked, walking over.
“Ricky is repaying us for all the money he stole…every last cent!”
Ricky shuffled his feet. “The music store has been really popular. I didn’t think I’d be able to do this until much later, but here we are.”
Mom jumped out of her seat and gave Ricky a huge hug. “I love you, Rick.”
“I love you too, sis,” Ricky said, hugging her back.
Cal turned to look at me, really smugly. “I told you Ricky was a good guy now.”
“No…no! This isn’t right!”
“Clark?” Mom asked, breaking the hug.
“Ricky ruined us…multiple times! We can’t just…forgive him like this!”
“Clark, chill,” Cal said. He was really getting annoying.
“Stop telling me what to do, Cal. I won’t…just…ugh!”
I turned around and stormed up the stairs.
“Clark, come down here and apoligize to your uncle!” Mom ordered. “Your whole attitude has been crap lately. You’re grounded!”
I didn’t respond. I just slammed the door and threw myself down on the bed. I’m the hero! The villain is supposed to get the punishment, not me! I was getting grounded in a completely and utterly unfair circumstance. How was I supposed to know Ricky was going to do something like this? This was…stupid.
All I know is, somebody is going to have to pay. The very first person to get in my way is in for it.
“So, what superhero would I get if I was an OrigAvenger?” I asked Clark at the end of the day. Thankfully, we’d gotten lockers right next to each other. It was great!
Clark didn’t look up at me to answer. “I dunno. Some stupid one, like Spider-Ham.”
“Don’t you dare disrespect my boy Peter Porker.” I thought for a minute. “Hey, could I be Spider-Man?”
“Yeah, Spider-Man! Like the movies, Tony Stark mentors Peter Parker. You’re my older brother, so it’d fit really well!”
Clark smiled at me. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
Jameson came storming down the hall, looking quite angry.
“It’s wonderful to see you again, Tanner,” my older brother replied. He had the ‘couldn’t care less voice’. It wasn’t a nice voice.
“I heard you were talking crud about me.”
“Yes, I was. Did it hurt your feelings?”
Jameson is a big guy. He isn’t really the type you want to intentionally anger. Nobody told that to my brother, evidently.
“Hey, bro, you’re not really thinking straight at the moment…let’s leave him alone…”
“If I did that, I’d be as weak as him!”
“Listen to your little brother, Largent. If you leave now I might let you live.”
“I’m so threatened. Wow. I’m shaking.”
Jameson had had enough. He grabbed some sheets of homework Clark was storing in his locker and ripped them up. They were ripped into big enough pieces to put back together…but this wasn’t good. Clark stared at the ripped sheets, processing.
“Won’t be getting that special treatment anymore, huh, Mr. Big Man on Campus?”
“You’ll regret that.”
“Oh, will I?” Jameson reached over to Clark’s shirt pocket, where Iron Fold was just barely peeking out. Jameson’s big, meaty fist yanked Iron Fold out of the pocket.
“Give it back, Tanner,” Clark said, quietly.
“You know, this paper doll has been really annoying. Tons of people would thank me if it disappeared.”
“I said give it back,” Clark repeated.
“Oh boy…” I murmured.
Jameson, of course, did not give it back. He uncrumpled it and then ripped it up far more thoroughly than he had with the homework. He deposited the ripped up red paper into the nearest trash can. Iron Fold was dead.
“It’s not healthy to carry around a paper doll like that at your age, Largent. What kind of example are you setting for your little brother?”
Clark was quiet. Instead of shouting and screaming like he had last night, He simply grabbed Jameson’s collar and brought him down to eye level.
“Like I said, Tanner, you’ll regret that.”
With a lot more strength than I thought he had, Clark pulled Jameson along behind him and headed out the side door of the school, onto the lawn. I texted Emily and Robby; “Come quick, bro just lost it.”
This wasn’t going to end well.
I watched as Clark dragged Jameson, a boy roughly twice his size, out to the lawn. This was getting out of hand. I ran behind them, trying my best to get my boyfriend to listen.
“Clark, do you realize what you’re doing?” I asked him. He was so angry I wasn’t sure he was even listening.
Jameson battled against him, punching Clark’s arm as hard as he could without leverage. “Dude, let me go! You jerk!”
“Fine,” Clark growled, and threw Jameson to the ground. Jameson jumped up immediately, fists held high, ready for a fight. Clark himself didn’t even bother getting into a fighting stance, grinning recklessly. This was about the third brawl on the school grounds Clark had been a part of; this was the first one he had started.
“You’re gonna regret that you started this, kid,” Jameson taunted, throwing a few mock punches for emphasis.
Clark finally held his fists up and rolled his eyes. “I beat you up already, big man. This should be a breeze.”
Robby, who’d also followed us out, jumped in front of his best friend. Cal came running up beside me, looking confused.
“Out of the way, Rob,” Clark grunted, still focusing on Jameson. He tried to move Robby out of the way, but for how small Robby looks the kid was standing his ground.
“Clark, stop. You’re acting like a freak.”
Clark shook his head, looked at Robby for a moment, and punched him hard in the chest. Unprepared, Robby fell backwards. The punch hadn’t hurt, I could tell, but it was still a punch from his best friend. Robby just looked back at Clark, scared and confused.
Clark continued forward, still so angry he couldn’t control himself. Even Jameson seemed a bit worried now.
“Clark, stop,” I said, my voice very full of emotion. “Focus. You don’t want to do this.”
“Yeah, bro, stop being an idiot,” Cal added.
He turned to look at me. “Jameson dissed me. He dissed you, he ripped my homework and ripped Iron Fold just because I embarrassed him. I’m paying him back.”
“Not like this,” I said.
“Yeah, Largent,” another, deeper voice added.
“Oh, boy,” I heard Robby groan.
Nard was stomping forward, fuming. This wasn’t going to help anything. Of course, Clark immediately glowered.
“You again?” he shouted.
“Chill out, Largent.” Nard pulled out a F.O.L.D. badge. “I’m in charge of problems like this, and you are in direct violation.
“Leave me alone, man. This is a noble cause.”
“F.O.L.D. needs to have a word with you. You’re coming with me.”
Clark squared his shoulders up, the way he always did when he was threatened. “You’re not the hero, Nard! You were the bad guy! You have no authority over me.”
Nard’s angry look softened. He relaxed his shoulders. I could tell he understood the problem. “Okay… Hey look, I get it. You’re running on anger and adrenaline. You don’t feel like anybody gets this ‘righteous cause’ and that you’re all by yourself. That’s exactly how I used to be. However, sometimes it takes a knock to the head to get you to listen. So, that knock, straight from Rainey, is to give you detention for punching a fellow student.”
Clark looked at Nard, incredulously. “You’re kidding.”
“You deserve it.” Clark turned around and Robby looked at him, still feeling a bit betrayed.
“You got in the way!” Clark shouted.
“Clark, come on.”
He looked ready to start another brawl, but then he turned to look at me. I felt terrible for him. He thought everything he was doing was right. He thought the whole world was against him. I knew the feeling. And because I knew the feeling, I knew what was best for him. I looked Clark in the eyes and nodded towards Nard.
He took this as the final say. He lowered his head and scooted over to Nard.
“Glad you could see some reason,” Nard said.
“Don’t pretend that you don’t still hate me,” Clark muttered.
“Mmm.. Less than before.”
Mission Report from Leonard Broderick #3
By Leonard Broderick
Clark was, of course, dragged to detention. It is against school policy to punch any student, so if you are caught doing so it is an immediate punishment. It gave me no small pleasure to drag my former nemesis into the place where I once spent so many hours.
Mr. Rainey was waiting there at his desk, ready to oversee Clark. Clark himself didn’t acknowledge the new presence of this higher authority.
“Thank you, Leonard,” he said, kindly.
“Of course, Mr. Rainey,” I replied, respectfully. Rainey had since forgiven me for my previous offenses against him, no small act, I think. I had tried to ruin his career, after all.
“This is sickeningly sweet,” Clark said, spitefully, towards the two of us.
“Please take a seat, Mr. Largent,” Rainey ordered.
“This is ridiculous,” Clark grumbled, but he did as he was told.
I turned to leave.
“Leonard, would you mind staying in here with us?” Mr. Rainey asked me.
Surprised, I turned around and nodded.
“So, Clark, what seems to be the problem?” Rainey asked.
Clark snorted. “What is this, a therapy session? I’m perfectly fine.”
“Clark, I’m a doctorate-holding psychiatrist. I can tell when people are not ‘fine.’ Now, why have you been so…touchy, recently?”
“You have a doctorate?” I asked, suddenly.
“Yes I do, Leonard. Simply being a teacher doesn’t really pay the bills,” he said, smiling. He turned back to my former enemy. “Tell me, Clark, what’s wrong?”
Clark sat in his chair for a long time, sticking his nose up at both of us. However, he started to soften as the minutes went on. He made the mistake of looking into Rainey’s kind eyes. Soon, it all came rushing forth.
How he was upset that wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved…how none of his friends cared about him anymore…how Jameson and the other jerks like him hadn’t left him alone…how Iron Fold had been ripped…
How his deadbeat uncle had suddenly returned as the good guy…how he didn’t feel he was being a good example for his younger brother…how he couldn’t bring himself to forgive me or his uncle…how his friends in the OrigAvengers hadn’t talked to him at all since the big battle…
“…And…I put on this whole big show of being the best, but I’m not. Trent and Tilly picked me to be the face of the OrigAvengers, but look at me. I don’t deserve it. I was the problem, not the solution. I failed them, I failed Robby, I failed Mom and Cal. I failed my girlfriend, for crying out loud!”
“How long have you pent up all these problems, if I may ask?”
Clark shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Ever since the Jude…”
“You haven’t tried to get help?”
“I thought I could help myself. Nobody would have cared, anyway.”
Rainey looked at me. I knew what he was thinking; he was thinking that I knew exactly what that was like.
“Don’t do that to yourself, Clark,” I said. “It isn’t healthy. You saw the effects. We can help you fix it. Maybe not I, specifically…” Rainey glared at me. “But you have a brother and best friend and a girlfriend who all care about you, enough that going to the Dark Side won’t make them care less. Don’t let them be wrong about you, man.”
Rainey reached into his drawer and grabbed a blue Sharpie. “I think you’ll be wanting to remake that puppet of yours soon. Take this.” He tossed it to our mutual friend.
Clark caught the Sharpie and nodded. I think we’d actually gotten through to him.
Sincerely yours, Nard.
P.S. I did pretty great, huh? Now will you go out with me?
“The funny thing about hitting rock bottom, Eddie, is that the only way to go is up!”
-Matthew McConakoala, Sing
Forgive the quote, but hey, it’s applicable.
Clark drove me home like usual, but I didn’t try to pester him with my usual begging. He seemed sadder than usual, obviously, but also a bit happier deep down than he had been for awhile.
He walked in the house and immediately flopped down at the kitchen counter.
“Hey, Mom?” he asked. “Can you call Uncle Ricky and ask him to come over?”
Mom looked surprised, but nodded. “Sure, sweetie.”
Ricky was over in a couple minutes. “What’s up, Maria?” he asked Mom.
“Clark asked you to come over.”
Clark motioned for Ricky to sit down next to him. Ricky obliged. Clark couldn’t bring himself to look our uncle in the eye. I was going to be late playing Fortnite with my friends and I didn’t mind; I wanted to see where this was going.
“I’m really sorry for what I said last night, and for not trusting you from the beginning. I’ve had a lot of problems lately, and this felt like the biggest. I didn’t know how to handle it and I just exploded. I’m sorry.”
Ricky nodded, then smiled. “It’s not like you weren’t justified in that distrust. I wouldn’t trust me either. I’ve messed with you guys too many times. You were just trying to look out for your Mom, weren’t you?”
“Well, I’ve been a terrible brother to her. You did what you thought was best and you’re completely justified in that.” He patted Clark’s back. “But, I am asking you to trust me from now on. I am a good guy again, I intend to stay that way.”
Mom grinned, this time. “Ricky went to school at Kirby, Clark. Of course he was a hero before.”
I was shocked, this time. “Wait, what? You had an origami figure?”
“Yep. I was your mom’s sidekick, back in the day. She was Iron Fold, and I was Cardboard Machine.”
“No way,” Clark said, gasping.
“Yes way. It was a big deal back then. I hear you’re carrying on the tradition?”
Clark nodded, slowly. “Yeah…but my Iron Fold was destroyed today.”
“It was bad,” I nodded to confirm.
“You’ll need to make a new one,” Mom said.
“So, do you have your own sidekick?” Ricky asked.
“My best friend Robby, actually…but I’ve treated him like crap recently. I wouldn’t blame him if he stopped sidekicking.”
“Well, is there anyway to make it up to him?”
I knew the exact way, and Clark did too. The Halloween party was tomorrow night, a Saturday. We looked at each and grinned.
“Hey, mom, can you lift my grounding just for tomorrow night?”
“This better be a good reason, Clark.”
“Oh, it is, Mom,” I said. “It very much is.”
Last Minute Prep
So Mom lifted my grounding sentence so I could run the festivities tonight. I’m a free man for one night only, and I intend to make it count.
I set up everything in the gym by myself. I had called Emily and Robby to come but I wouldn’t have blamed them if they didn’t show up. Thankfully, they did. Robby still looked really nervous to be there. He was probably worried I would punch him again. That really hurt.
“It looks nice, Clark,” Emily said, taking in the whole thing.
“Oh yes, very nice!” a voice shouted from the gym doorway. I groaned.
Coming into the gym was a kid in a white mask with a few bigger, tougher looking kids following him. It was the Watchdogs, here to ruin everything. Time to be a hero again.
“Might I ask what you’re doing here?” I asked. “Any student is invited but I’m pretty sure you’re not here for the cupcakes.”
“Oooo, cupcakes? No, wait. No cupcakes for us!” The leader said. Some of his henchman looked sad that no cupcakes were coming.
“How’d you get past the F.O.L.D. agents?”
“We were let in, of course, Mr. Largent.” The leader continued. It was the same voice as the Chameleon dude from earlier. He was leading these other kids to disrupt the party. This guy couldn’t be the leader, though. He had already established that he was not the smartest brick in the wall.
“What are you doing here?”
“We’re here to breakup this party, of course. Kirby and Wheeler can never work together.”
“So, are you another Nard I have to fight? Have some vendetta?”
The Chameleon laughed. “No, no, I just think it’s fun. I’m a great prankster. If the war stops, I won’t be able to do what I love. Duh.”
“So, Clark? Are you gonna stop us or not? We planned this around your angsty-ness. You’ve been kind of against the peace anyway, so why don’t you join us? It’ll be fun.”
I’ll admit, this made me stop. Over the past few weeks, I noticed it made my friends a bit boring; they were trying to stop the war and thus we stopped hanging out. That’s why I’d been such a jerk lately. It would be a different change of pace, to be sure.
But wasn’t that why I’d almost lost my friends, too? I’d finally realized that I’ve been the bad guy for the past few weeks; I’ve turned from Iron Man into Iron Monger. That wasn’t something I’d ever expected to happen. That’s why it was so easy to fall into the trap.
I wasn’t going to be the bad guy anymore. I turned to Robby, dressed like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, (who I still felt terrible about punching by the way) and smiled. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, and I could tell he understood.
“Hey, Rob? You have any paper?” I asked.
“Really?” He asked, surprised. “Sure.” He reached inside his boot and pulled out a piece of origami paper. Unfortunately, it was all white.
“Have any better color?”
He walked over to me, cautiously. He handed me the paper.
I took the paper, and gave Robby a hug. A bro-hug, sure, but still a hug. Robby stared at me, again surprised.
“Thanks for being there for me, buddy,” I told him.
“Uh, no problem.”
“You wanna help me knock some heads again?”
Robby looked back and forth from me to the Chameleon, then smiled. Then, out of his other boot, he pulled Cardboard Machine, now encased in the shiny gleam of silvery foil. “Of course, man.”
I quickly folded another Iron Fold puppet, and using the blue sharpie Mr. Rainey had given me, sketched Iron Man’s most important details. “Hey, Rob, look, I made the Endo-Sym suit after all.”
Robby beamed. “I told you it was a cool suit.” He then turned to face Chameleon and the Watchdogs. “Let’s do this, Clark.”
“Don’t start without me!” A voice called from the door of the gym.
None other than my younger brother came running in dressed like Spider-Man. It was a pretty terrible costume to be sure but it was Spider-Man. He somersaulted into one of the Watchdogs, knocking the kid over.
“You can’t start without your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!” Cal shouted. He dodged a shove and jumped over to where me and Robby were standing.
“You’re actually kidding,” I groaned. “Cal, what the heck are you doing?”
“From what it looks like, you’re back to normal and you’re fighting bad guys,” he started, still wearing his mask. “I took this opportunity to show you that I do have what it takes to be hero and F.O.L.D. agent. And, hey, it’s Halloween, and I had this costume anyway.”
“Good enough for me,” Robby said. He drew his fake sword.
“Attack!” Chameleon commanded.
“Attack what?” One asked. “We were only brought here to intimidate people, man.”
“That’s not what my boss told me!” Chameleon shouted back. “I’m supposed to attack Iron Fold.”
“I have no problem with attacking!” Cal said. He ran at the Chameleon and started kicking at his shins. He continued by jumping on the Chameleon’s back and pulling his hair.
“Get off!” He shouted.
The Watchdogs still didn’t do anything. This seemed out of character for the group, but I didn’t mind. The fewer brawls I participated in the better. So, me and Robby decided to help Cal.
“Cal, get down,” I ordered, exasperated.
“Bro, I almost have him,” Cal replied, out of breath.
Chameleon finally got up the strength and threw Cal off his back. Cal landed hard and evidently got the wind knocked out of him and gasped. “You’ll never beat me!” our masked opponent shouted.
“Yeah, yeah,” Robby chuckled. In one swift motion, Robby punched the Chameleon’s gut and knocked him on his back. Like Cal, he didn’t get up right away.
“So, who’s the puppet master here? You’re the henchman, where’s the mob boss?”
The Chameleon’s plastic mask twitched, and I could see him roll his eyes. “I take offense at that,” he grunted. “But, my leader is here. She’s around here somewhere.”
“What are you, sexist?”
“Skip to the end, dummy.”
“I’m the leader, Clark,” a very familiar voice said.
Seriously? I’ll give one you guess who the leader was.
It was Emily.
“Since when are you a supervillain?” I asked incredulously. Why did my girlfriend have to be the bad guy? I’d just had an epiphany about me being a villain, and now she was one?
“Clark, I’m not a supervillain. In fact, at this moment, I’m the heroine who has achieved her ultimate goal; turning you good.”
“What?” Cal said, walking over. I pulled his mask off his face so I could actually see him. “Clark, I don’t think that’s a usual supervillain motivation.” My brother looked at Emily, confused. “Please elaborate further, Girl-I-Thought-Would-Be-My-Sister-In-Law-Until-This-Moment. “
“Okay, slow down Cal. Anyway, Clark has been a jerk for a long time, hasn’t he?”
“Yes, I have,” I replied.
“Well, I decided to build a situation using my resources as the new Vice President to fix him, starting with the Halloween Party and ending with the Watchdogs coming in and ruining everything. And I succeeded in my plan; you’ve finally become the Invincible Iron Fold again, babe.”
I was incredibly confused, annoyed and impressed all at the same time. Also, touched that my girlfriend has somehow orchestrated this entire tapestry just to get me to stop brooding.
“So, were the Watchdogs ever real to begin with?” Cal asked.
“Nope, “ said Robby, suddenly. “I ‘put them together’ so you’d have a some misdirected bad guys to fight. I got help from that guy over there, Brody. “ One of the Watchdogs waved.
“NONE OF THIS WAS REAL?” Chameleon, who was still on the ground, shouted. “I got beat up for this! I thought this whole thing was real and all it was was an INTERVENTION?” Chameleon stomped over to me and glared through the plastic mask. “You’ll pay for making me suffer, Clark. You too, Clark Jr. The great thing about Chameleon’s,” he started, slowly backing away, “Is that they blend into the shadows.” He tried to stealthily run out of the gymnasium but ran into the door frame instead. He stood up, shrugged and stalked off.
I laid down on one of the bleachers, out of depth. The actual party would be starting soon. I looked around, noticing that the ‘Watchdogs’ had knocked some snack bowls over and deflated the inflatable Grim Reaper. I lay down, trying to gather my feelings before getting things fixed. Emily sat down next to me and rubbed my shoulder.
“You’re a criminal mastermind,” I said, chuckling.
“Well, I had a lot of experience at my old school.”
“I really hope that’s a joke.”
I looked at my new Iron Man puppet, with its new, blue design. I was happy with it. I’d miss my old one, but that puppet hadn’t stopped me from villainy.
“I’m sorry, Emily,” I apologized.
“I know,” she said, matter-of-factly. “You had a rough patch, but at least you got out of it. Not everybody does.”
“Thanks for not giving up on me.”
“It took a bit,” she admitted. “But you’re too lovable.”
“Lovable, no way-” I started, before Emily pulled me up and kissed me. It felt nice. Not bad for a first kiss.
“Mom is gonna flip when she hears about this,” Cal said, horrified. “However, she doesn’t have to know…” he said, mischievously.
“Is that purported blackmail I sense, Spider-Man?” I asked.
“Make me a F.O.L.D. agent or mom is hearing about your first kiss, bro,” grinned my younger brother.
“Gotta admit, it’s pretty smart,” Robby said, sounding impressed.
I rolled my eyes. Even Emily was laughing. “Fine. Cal, you’re a F.O.L.D. agent. You can be, um, the amazing Spider-Fold or something.”
“Yes!” Cal shouted. “Thank you! Thank you, thank you! What’s my first mission?”
I stood up, looking over the mess of the gym. “Your first mission is to help me clean up. We have a party to start.”
Emily stood up, suddenly. “Oh, I have to get my costume on. I’ll see you during the party, guys.”
She ran out into the hall and passed a man who walked into the gym holding a monkey puppet. It was Adam, from earlier. “Excuse me, am I late?” he asked. “This place seems to be an unsanitary mess at the moment.”
“Yeah, you dumb kids!” the monkey puppet screeched.
A Long-Expected Party
As a surprise to me, (a very happy surprise) the party went off without a hitch. It was a very spooky time enjoyed by one and all. Well, hopefully everybody enjoyed it. I know Mr. GCF still found it a bit on the ‘messy’ side.
Speaking of Mr. GCF, he and Soapy were a hit. Most of the kids my age enjoyed him for the nostalgia factor, and most of the younger kids enjoyed memeing his performance. He’s coming back for a Christmas party, apparently. And no, Emily, I am not planning that.
The snacks were great, the decorations were great, it was overall a fun party. I even got to meet some people I haven’t seen in awhile. Including:
“Gardner! Where the heck have you been?”
I saw Andy over by the snack bar chatting with a blonde girl I hadn’t met before. Andy paused his conversation with the girl and then walked over to me, looking serious. “I have been avoiding you, Clark.”
“Couldn’t be associating myself with a supervillain, now could I? Captain Americut wouldn’t have approved.” He motioned to his pant pocket, where, of course, Captain Americut sat holding the shield that I had had a hand in making.
“I could have used your help in not supervillaining, Andy. Your voice of reason soothes me.”
He chuckled. “I’m flattered that you think so highly of me.” He turned and a far-off look came into his eyes. “And I really am sorry, but I couldn’t help you out. There’s been a lot of things going on that we couldn’t trust you to handle.”
He made sure nobody was listening, then lowered his voice. “I guess we can trust you now. Anyway, since Shelby Solstice graduated, there’s a new head at Wheeler. She’s more…irritating, to say the least. Dove has been occupied trying to keep her in check, but it’s rough, man. The pacifism that you hate so much is getting harder everyday. It’ll come to a head soon, I’m sure.”
I nodded. “Whatever you need, I’ll help with it.”
“Happy to hear it. I’ll keep in touch.” Andy walked off. Cal walked up and took his place.
“So, when do I get a puppet?”
“You have to make it, Cal.”
“Oh, yeah.” He thought for a moment. “So, when do I get a mission?”
“When one comes up suited for your specific…ness.”
“Okay.” He was quiet a bit longer. Then, “So, how much longer are you grounded for?”
“Only a week and a half. It won’t be that bad.”
“Are you ready to let Ricky be part of the family again?”
I smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I think I will. Thanks for all of the help you’ve been, Cal.”
“No problem, bro. By the way, I think your girlfriend wants to dance,” Cal said, gesturing towards our makeshift dance floor. Emily was wearing a black cat costume that fit her very attractively. I realized I hadn’t even picked out a costume for myself. I groaned. Cal patted my back. “It’s okay, Clark. You can just be Normal Man.” He smiled, then turned to walk away. “Oh, and I’m still totally telling Mom about your kiss. She’ll totally flip.”
“Cal!” I shouted after him, but he’d already started talking with his friends. I strode over to wear Emily was standing. She beamed and me as we started a slow dance.
“He’s a great younger brother, isn’t he?” she said, grinning.
“Oh, yes, he is.”
“Thanks so much for setting this party up, Clark. Everything looks great.”
“So do you,” I said, mischievously. “But isn’t Catwoman a DC character?”
“Hey, I could be Felicia Hardy.”
“Yes, but then you’d have to be dating my younger brother and I don’t think any of us want that.” We both laughed. “You seem to know a whole lot about people going bad, Emily. What is all that about?”
“My old school was weird.”
“Will I ever find out more about this old school?”
“At some point, maybe.”
“I look forward to the day.”
“You really shouldn’t.”
So. Yeah. This was a big rollercoaster, wasn’t it? I’m glad it’s over, frankly. That kind of stunk.
But, I mean, hey. That was super bad. Everything going forward will be an upgrade, right? It can’t possibly get worse.
By Laura Rushman
Oh…oh boy. This was big. Like, really big. Bad big. This would be really for both Kirby and Wheeler.
I couldn’t take this to the Director, obviously. Um…Tilly? No, no, she adores Trent, that wouldn’t work either. Jessieca? No, they’ve been too busy dating to notice anything else.
Andy? Yes, he’d work. He’s kind-hearted, he’s smart, he’s able to fix things, he’s just amazing in and out. Yeah, he’d know what to do. Well, I sure hope he will.
A Series of Emails From Leonard Broderick…
Emails written by Leonard Broderick
So, I got tickets to the orchestra performance in a couple weeks. Wanna come?
It would make my day if you went to the the concert with me!
The concert was stunning, and I really wish you could’ve come. You’d have loved it.
Sincerely, Mr. Broderick.
Please answer Tilly
Desperately yours, Nard.